Canadian Travel Advisory Raises Concerns for Belize Tourism Sector

Canadian Travel Advisory Raises Concerns for Belize Tourism Sector

After Belize declared a 30-day State of Emergency on March 28, the Government of Canada issued a travel advisory for its citizens traveling here. The advisory told Canadians coming to Belize to exercise a high degree of caution as there were high levels of violent crime throughout the country. The news is of major concern for the tourism sector, since such advisories may discourage travelers from coming to Belize. Minister of Tourism and Diaspora Relations, Anthony Mahler says that he is discussing the impacts of the advisory with Cabinet and that more efforts will be made to reassure hopeful travelers that Belize is safe for tourists.

Anthony Mahler, Minister of Tourism and Diaspora Relations: “We take it seriously and we’re on constant dialogue with our PR agents in Canada. We had a discussion in Cabinet about the state of emergency, what it means and how we can minimize the negative impacts it has on our industry. And so we’re talking about it. I think the state of emergency is a last resort by the government and so when we had to utilize that it was to kind of contain the violence that’s happening here in Belize City and other parts of the country. But it is important for us to be able to properly articulate what we’re doing to our partners internationally because they’re not here, they don’t understand that it’s only a small piece of real estate that the violence is happening not in any of the major tourism destinations and so we have to do a better job in terms of advising them. Last year we brought in some of the major yacht brokers around the world, we now have four major yachts resident in Belize for a period of time selling Belize internationally so high end people could come rent a yacht for a week, two weeks whatever they want and enjoy Belize. So when we brought those yacht brokers one of the things that they brought up to us is crime and I challenged them I said we’re down in Maya Beach and we said after the week then we can have the discussion. After the week everybody said it was one of the safest destinations. So sometimes we are our own worst enemy, the media sensationalizes like the elder statesman that had said “if it doesn’t bleed it doesn’t lead.” those types of things there. So we have to do more work in terms of the Belize Tourism Board and the private sector articulating to our partners internationally that still Belize is a very very safe destination.”

While the United States represents the bulk of tourists coming to Belize, Canada is the third-largest market behind Europe.

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