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Ministry of Tourism says Tourism is Slow to Get Back

As the nation’s COVID-19 numbers continue to rise, so does the concerns of stakeholders in the tourism industry. The nation is currently experiencing the third wave of COVID-19 which according to medical experts hasn’t climaxed as yet. This concern along with COVID-19 restrictions that are not so tourism-friendly is expected to have a negative effect on the upcoming high season. Today, Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Tourism Nicole Solano says the number of active cases will have an effect on tourist arrivals in the coming weeks.

Nicole Solano, CEO, Ministry of Tourism:All of our tourists who are coming into Belize they want to feel safe. So our guests will definitely be looking at the number of cases that the country has and it will impact on whether or not there are cancellations. So it’s very important from a tourism perspective that we look at the number of cases and we try to bring the cases down and I know that saying that from a tourism standpoint is really something that everybody in the general public already knows that that is what we want to achieve. We want to accomplish reduction in the numbers but from tourism we need to make sure that we can bring those numbers down or they will impact on the bookings.”

Reporter: Okay and is there any projection at this moment as to how many tourists are planning to visit the country for the high season

Nicole Solano, CEO, Ministry of Tourism:Well the indications from the private sector is that we do expect to have a pretty normal high season as long a we do not get cancellations. We’re very optimistic. We’re hoping that the numbers can come down and that they will not impact the bookings. We know that people are travelling , people do want to come to Belize and we do expect that we will have a close to normal high season but it’s going to really depend on how the numbers go. As you know the restrictions that we have in place for the SI will also impact the decisions of travelers because travelers don’t want to come in and be faced with curfews and other restrictions so if we can get the numbers down and those restrictions can be alleviated then that will assist with people’s decision to book Belize.”

Solano also spoke about how the Ministry is seeking to strike a balance between lives and lively hoods, given that our regional competitors have less stringent protocols geared at attracting tourists.

Nicole Solano, CEO, Ministry of Tourism: “It is something that we have to look at. We have to look at our competing destinations and look at what is happening around us in the region and other destinations. Like you mentioned Mexico, our minister just met with some ministers of tourism in the Caribbean as well as Central America and the feedback from these competing destinations is that everybody understands the need to ensure that COVID protocols are in place and to be safe that’s the priority across the board not only for the communities but for the tourists themselves but these competing destinations are looking for ways where we can increase the ease of entry for travelers and reduce restrictions so that they can move around safely. Majority of the tourists coming in are vaccinated and so that is really one of the ways that we hope to reduce the spread or any difficulties related to COVID. So the competing destinations are concerned as we are and all destinations are having to find that balance between health and opening up for tourism so we’re not alone in that. That is something that we know everybody is facing so it’s very important that we look at it and we try to find the right balance.”