Being a young and sparsely populated country, Belize is currently trailing established countries like Costa Rica and New Zealand as top eco-destinations around the world. However, more and more individuals are visiting Belize as they learn about its diverse cultures, the ancient Maya pyramids and ceremonial caves, the countless cayes and atolls that dot the coast, the iconic Blue Hole and Great Barrier Reef, and the various rivers and waterfalls that nourish it’s rainforests. If you plan to visit, help take care of this eco-paradise by being a Belize responsible traveler.

Try to learn a little of Belize’s local language

English is Belize’s official language but natives mostly speak Creole with each other. Try to learn the basic common words and don’t worry if you have a terrible accent, having an interest and getting involved is what matters most. Try an easy phrase such as “Weh di goan?” (What’s going on?) or “Tings haad out yah!” (We are going through rough times!). Making the natives smile is always a great way to break the ice and it can also be a good opportunity to build long lasting relationships.

Appreciate and respect cultural attire, religion and beliefs

Things such as clothing, traditions and lifestyle are very important to keep cultures intact, you help by respecting each culture’s uniqueness. When visiting the Barton Creek Cave for example, you must pass a small Mennonite community, women are asked not to wear over revealing bathing suits since the young teenage boys are not used to that. Another example would be that guests ought to be respectful whenever touring the ancient Maya pyramids and ceremonial caves, given that they are still sacred to the Maya.

Embracing environmental stewardship

Cherishing nature is fundamental in ensuring the preservation of the natural environment. Whenever in Belize, visit as many natural attractions and protected areas as you can, the park fee is a contribution that goes straight to the conservation efforts of these places. Also, try not to disturb or harm the wildlife. Never participate in buying products of endangered wildlife, remember, there must be a demand for the supply side to exist. And killing animals such as frogs for example can set ecosystems off balance, resulting in an infestation of flies and mosquitoes.

Support local Belize products and services

By supporting local businesses, an individual directly contributes to Belize’s growing economy. This is important because buying locally allows for a greater multiplier effect. Local hotels and tour operators economically provide for many families which in return spend their money throughout the community. Through eco-tourism for example, and eco resort in the Cayo District named The Lodge at Chaa Creek hires over 125 staff from predominantly two small villages. This resort has only 23 palm-thatched cottages in a 365 acre private nature reserve.

Support responsible tourism

Make it a preference to support Belizean businesses that endorse and carry out responsible tourism. Do a little research before visiting and find out if they truly practice what they preach: are they eco-friendly certified, employ local staff, have environmental awareness programs, fund conservation efforts, and are doing community outreach? Research conducted previous to your travels is essential to exclude the naysayers who join the green marketing scheme.