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Tourism Ministry CEO says loosening up of COVID regs can help industry

COVID-related health measures introduced at the start of the pandemic have now been loosened. Since last week, tourists coming into Belize are no longer mandated to purchase travel insurance. For tourists and locals alike, when coming into Belize via land and sea, proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test is required. The relaxation of the measures is seen as a way to encourage more tourists to travel to the country. Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Tourism & Diaspora Relations, Nicole Solano spoke to Love News today about it. 

Nicole Solano, CEO, Ministry of Tourism & Diaspora Relations: “It is no longer a requirement, under the public health regulations, for travellers who are entering Belize to present any tests or any vaccine card on entry. As well, there is no longer a requirement for them to purchase the mandatory travel insurance. So those are the two main adjustments for travelling and for entry. Generally, in the world, many of the entry requirements are being relaxed. COVID isn’t gone. It’s still with us. There are other concerns that are related to bio-safety, but the world is moving toward the relaxation of entry requirements. So, Belize also took that step and that should be a positive thing in terms of tourists travelling to Belize. It’s easier for you to enter. You don’t have to incur additional expenses and that helps us in terms of the amount of arrivals that we see going forward.”

While the restrictions have been loosened, there is a concern after Belize confirmed the presence of the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of COVID’s Omicron strain. For now, Solano says Belize is monitoring the situation but it’s still too early to know if the mandatory insurance will be reintroduced. 

Nicole Solano, CEO, Ministry of Tourism & Diaspora Relations: “The travel insurance, currently, is now optional so people still have the option of purchasing that. We don’t know what we’ll face in the future so we are monitoring all of the factors that are affecting tourism from a health standpoint. It may become necessary and those are the decisions that we will make based on the guidance of the Ministry of Health and based on their evaluation of what is necessary to keep Belizeans safe and also travellers as well so that monitoring will not stop. That will continue and we have to be flexible and make the adjustments as we go, depending on what is needed. So, that is not saying we’re saying will not change. It will really depend on what the future holds and we don’t know that at this time. No?”