While the BTB is ecstatic about the increase in airlift in the coming weeks and months, they are also cautiously optimistic about cruise tourism. That’s because Norwegian Cruise Lines, one of the most important players in the game, has threatened to pull its ships from Florida due to the state’s new laws on vaccine mandates. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (de-san-tiss) signed the law, which prohibits a company from asking proof of a COVID-19 vaccine. That law stops NCL from restarting their cruises with all of their passengers and crew being fully vaccinated. BTB Chairman Evan Tillett conceded that an issue like this makes the cruise industry an unpredictable one.
Evan Tillett, Chairman, BTB: “Since March 2020 there has been no cruises coming to Belize and so a lot of people are out of jobs, a lot of businesses are holding on some have closed down and so in terms of the cruise sector what happens there is governed by what the CDC and the no sail order that they had implemented really affected the global tourism landscape and Belize is no different. The issue with cruise tourism is that the situation is so fluid and volatile it changes on a daily basis. Just today for instance you had the CDC announce that if you’re vaccinated you don’t need to wear a mask and that sort of thing and so that is good news for cruise tourism. We have the indication that Norwegian in Harvest Caye should start in August. We have heard or gotten information ,not officially , that there’s a possibility of Royal Caribbean coming as well in August but that is not guaranteed. So we really are a part of a bigger group that is trying to restart the whole cruise tourism internationally. We sit on a regional task force for the restart of cruise that focuses on all the issues, the health and safety aspect, reopening of ports etc and so in terms of cruise tourism it’s a very volatile situation and that’s the challenge that we have. What we can do locally is prepare. Prepare our tour guides, prepare our tour operators, prepare our sites and that is what we can do and that is what we have been doing in terms of getting ready for cruise tourism.”
Despite the threat from the world’s third-largest cruise line, the Florida Governor seemed unmoved.