The Philip Goldson International Airport is set to reopen on August 15, and Belizeans are concerned over the protocols put in place to keep the country from importing more covid-19 cases. The Belize Tourism Board (BTB) explained today that there are strict requirements put on hotels who want to host international visitors. According to Misty Michael, the Director of Marketing and Industry Relations, there is the Gold Standard Recognition Program in place to ensure the safety of tourists and locals. This program has a 9 point checklist, and only hotels that have all 9 requirements will achieve Gold Standard. These hotels are the only ones that will cater to foreigners. Michael explained more about the requirements.
Misty Michael, Director of Marketing and Industry Relations, BTB: “For hoteliers to be recognized as a gold standard property there are nine requirements that they would need to meet and some of that includes appointing a program manager and that person is kind of like the liaison between the property and the Ministry of Health and the guest in the event that there was a suspected case or a guest were to fall ill with the virus and they are also in charge of ensuring that the enhanced protocols are carried out the way that they should at the property and that the employees across the property are trained. The program includes the deployment of technology within the hotel and that includes things like incorporating online check in and checkout, contactless payment methods, daily health monitoring of guests, enhanced cleaning throughout the property, the implementation of hand sanitizing stations across the property so really it’s looking at how do we enhance the health and safety of hotels so that not only are guests but the tourism workers feel confident that they are safe working in these establishments.”.
There are other measures in place for when the PGIA reopens. Notably, tourists won’t be able to roam the country freely but will be required to remain at their hotel.
Misty Michael, Director of Marketing and Industry Relations, BTB: “The reopening in August is a limited reopening. Hotels that are approved to reopen will have to achieve the gold standard recognition as well as apply for reopening and to qualify for reopening the properties need to be full service and what does sorceress mean? Full service in this instance means that the property has an on-site restaurant and bar, they have a pool or beach access and that they have guessed entertainment or other activities like a spa, watersports that sort of thing. With the limited reopening we’re opening with somewhat of a safe corridor so guests that do come in this initial phase will be restricted to the property that they’re staying at unless they are accompanied by an approved tour operator for a tour; they will not be allowed to explore the country feeling as we have done in the past and this initial phase while limited is to ensure that the protocols are being put in place gives us an opportunity to try it and to tweak them as we go online to make sure that everyone is protected as best as possible. Initially we don’t anticipate it to the anything that we are unable to handle this is of course what is typically the slow season for tourism. We will initially start off in August with only two airlines. On August 15th we are expecting a fight out of Houston Texas from United, American will have their first fight on August 18th from Miami and then Delta will return on September 3rd.”
The tour operators who cater to the tourists will also need to achieve gold standard from the program.