August 15 is the day the Philip Goldson International Airport is set to reopen, and tourists will be allowed to visit the country once again. This will provide revenue for the tourism industry which will allow them to rebound back to normal from the COVID-19 economic crisis. Last week we reported that some establishments in the hotel industry have decided to close their doors to tourists and only allow locals to stay at their hotels. Director at the Belize Tourism Board commented on this decision taken by some of the hotel owners.
Karen Bevans, Director, Belize Tourism Board: “Overall impact was done by the economic czars Dr.Barnett and Chris Coye and I think in their words they mentioned it was devastating. The industry is next to nil so we know that we’re in our worst of times and hence the reason we want to prepare ourselves to rebound. We have to start at some point but the main message I want to mention to all stakeholders and all concerned let’s prepared ourselves. We have probably four more weeks now let’s continue prepare. Today we have a training going on so every, I think every other day, we have some sector or the other doing training. We implemented the gold standard which we want to help our stakeholders and our property to come up to that level, implement the nine point checklist for the gold standard. Once you implement those and your employees are properly trained and get into a practice of perfecting that I think that we would be in a good position come August 15 and I can see us heading in that direction. But yes I do agree with you there will be concerns and even myself as a citizen taking off my tourism hat I will have my concerns too but I will take the precautions, I will implement the protocols, I wear my mask, I will do social distancing, I’ll sanitize and wash my hands so we are urging and encouraging all our stakeholders and employees let’s continue to do that let’s practice that from now so that at August 15 it’s perfected.”
The Tourism industry has been one of the many sectors greatly impacted by COVID-19. With borders being closed there is little revenue trickling into the sector making it difficult for the sector to bounce back. Director of Tourism Karen Bevans spoke about how much the industry has been impacted.
Karen Bevans, Director, Belize Tourism Board: “No we respect that. Not everyone will be ready and if you’re not ready let’s wait and let’s work together to get you ready. So we respect if you say that you’re not ready, we prefer that than for you to be open and operating and we create further problems. So not all stakeholders will be ready we respect them saying that if they’re not ready though we will work with them to get there. You may have employees who are in a position of maybe high risk employees you may say ‘Let’s wait I don’t want to risk my employees.’ again we respect that and we want that because we don’t want to risk our employees, we don’t want to risk our stakeholders, we don’t want to risk the Belizean people so if that is the situation let us know and you remain closed until you know you are ready. There might be other properties who want to open but the training is not yet there again we respect you for saying I’ll wait util all the training is in place – it’s best for us to do that so that everybody is prepared when the travelers get here that we deliver on what we are marketing. We want to deliver a safe and healthy environment that is clean, that the travelers feel comfortable and would want to come back.”