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When Will We Open? #542250
05/09/20 05:15 AM
05/09/20 05:15 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 66,806
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

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Marty  Offline OP

Tourism Industry May Reopen as Early as July

The opening up of the country for Belizeans to move freely to other local destinations can start as early as next week.  But that brings about the question of a pending date when the country will officially reopen for overnight and cruise tourism arrivals.  There is a possibility that visitors can begin arriving as early as July, providing that there are certain safety, as well as public health measures, put in place, including rapid testing for COVID-19.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“This domestic tourism push naturally raises the issue of our opening up to foreign tourism.  We are clearly not there yet and my best guess, my personal guess, is not before July.  That, I would like to note, is also the position of CARICOM as discussed in a virtual meeting of heads that took place earlier this week.  I do want to make clear, though, that I have never said that the opening of our borders will have to wait on a vaccine.  That is the stance of some countries, our ally Taiwan being one such.  It is not my position though.  While ultimately it depends on the National Oversight Committee and the Cabinet, my own view is this.  We must remember that the virus, in some countries, has a mortality rate that is as high as twelve percent.  Before we reopen, we therefore must look at the trajectory of the virus in North America as a whole and in the US in particular.  After all, the US is our biggest tourism market, responsible for over seventy-five percent of our tourism flows.  As long as the rates of infection in the US have not plateaued, we would best beware.  Also, we hope for, though not necessarily wait upon, an effective treatment for those that become critically ill after contracting the virus.  What of course would allow us to hurdle both the barriers I have just referred to is the availability of an effective rapid test.  The latter seems to be getting closer, hence my own reason for feeling that we could be good to go possibly by as early as July.”

Channel 5


What Happens After Monday?

So, there are no new cases of COVID 19 to report tonight, and Belize is coming up on 28 days with a positive test. That would mark the end of an outbreak, or what is being called the first wave.

So what's next for national life? Today, the Prime Minister said the Sate of Emergency measures will be relaxed some more, and, best news, you'll be allowed to go swimming!:

Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow - Prime Minister
"Monday will be the 28th day, we will reach that 28th day marker, providing this position of no new positive holds through this weekend. If it does so, and we do reach that 28-day milestone, we can promise you a further relaxation of some of the remaining restrictions."

"The National Oversight Committee will meet as usual on Monday, followed by Cabinet on Tuesday. They will be asked now to provide for greater cross district movement, particularly so as to enable a domestic tourism push. The hotels, as you know, have already been given permission to reopen, but now we would expressly provide for the ability of local guests at our hotels to be able to enjoy the amenities, including the pool, including walking along the beach, and including swimming in the sea. Of course, the social distancing requirements will remain in place."

When Will We Open?

So with a push for local tourism to start, when will foreign tourism be permitted. That means opening the airport and cruise. Ports to American visitors - and if you follow international news, you know that the US has recorded 1.3 million cases and almost eighty thousand deaths.

And that's why the PM said that Belize can't open until a rapid test for the coronavirus is widely available:

Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow - Prime Minister
"This domestic tourism push naturally raises the issue of our opening up to foreign tourism. We are clearly not there yet and my best guess, my personal best guess, is not before July."

"My own view is this. We must remember that the virus, in some countries, has a mortality rate that is as high as 12%. Before we reopen, we therefore must look at the trajectory of the virus in North America as a whole and the US in particular. After all, the US is our biggest tourism market, responsible for over 75% of our tourism flows. As long as the rates of infection in the US have not plateaued, we would best beware. Also, we hope for, though not necessarily wait upon, an effective treatment for those that become critically ill after contracting the virus. What of course could allow us to hurdle both the barriers I have just referred to is the availability of an effective rapid test. That latter seems to be getting closer and closer, hence my own reason for feeling that we could be good to go possibly by as early as July. The ability to immediately test tourists on arrival should be an open sesame. It is not a failsafe, but we clearly, as always, have to juggle saving lives with safeguarding the economy. A rapid test would permit us to let in all tourists that test negative upon arrival."

Is July Too Soon?

And some eager travellers are already paying for their plane tickets to Belize. The airlines are taking reservations for July second - so who gave them that idea? That's what we asked the PM:

Jules Vasquez
"International airlines are now taking bookings I see for early July flights into Belize and so is that as a product of communication with someone in authority? Is that a date that you all are looking or are they just being speculative?"

Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow - Prime Minister
"I believe now that they are aiming for a July date, again, aspirationally, is to coincide with the end of the state of emergency which of course is to take place at the conclusion of the month of June, but that's where it is. They have put this, I suspect they did put this to the BTB who would be authorized to say no more than well that sounds good aspirationally, but of course it is government that would have to decide whether or not to allow this to happen, whether or not to open the borders."

Cruisers Coming Home?

Those dozens of Belizeans who are stuck on the cruise ships where they worked might be the first to come home. The Prime Minister says they may be accepted later this month - if the cruise lines foot the bill for their local quarantine:

Jules Vasquez, reporter
"We have receive reports that at least one of the cruise lines Carnival I believe will be going to different ports in the region to drop off employees at those countries. Is this something the government is aware of that any ship may be heading into Belizean waters for any such purpose?"

Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow - Prime Minister
"In terms of the cruise ships we have indeed received 2 requests; one from Carnival and one from Royal Caribbean cruise lines for the repatriation of Belizean crew members with respect to both companies. I think Carnival is asking is they could be allowed to bring back these Belizeans on the 19th of this month and Royal Caribbean is asking for the 23rd of this month. So we are prepared to allow them to bring back the Belizean crew on condition that they will pay for the mandatory quarantining of those crew members. So we are not prepared to say to Carnival or Royal Caribbean cruise lines that you can come on the dates you've asked for with the expectation that government will pay for the quarantining of the crew members. If we said to them you are prepared to pay for that quarantining then we can in fact, we can make arrangements with private hotels and guest houses so that we can designate those individual private guest houses and hotels official quarantine facilities, because they can be ready far quicker than we can be with the public quarantine facilities if the 2 cruise lines are prepared to pay."

Channel 7


Re: When Will We Open? [Re: Marty] #542313
05/13/20 04:44 AM
05/13/20 04:44 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 66,806
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

.
Marty  Offline OP

Can Tourism Come Back Without Greenbacks?

Last week during a virtual Press Conference, the Prime Minister mentioned that swimming with social distance would be allowed as early as this week.

And while that's a relief for everyone trying to beat the heat, swimming is a major draw for weekend excursions to tourist destinations and could be the impetus for local bookings.

It's a measure of relief for a suffering Hotel Association having to adjust to lower traffic and much higher standards. This morning we spoke to Hotel Association President Ted Tejada who says that while the airport remains closed, hotels are making themselves more open than ever to domestic tourism.

Ted Tejeda, President, Belize Hotel Association
"As you know the prime minister has allowed us to open hotels as of this week. The borders are still closed. They are not scheduled to open anytime soon to be honest but we are inviting our local Belizeans to travel and get to see the properties that we have. The amenities that Belize has as a country but to be honest what we are encouraging all our hotels to do especially members of the Belize hotel association devise a rate, there are a lot of hotels that have retained their employees and that is very hard to sustain without any business. So there are Belizeans that have been locked down for many days that are ready to get out and visit these attractions. And as we know today is the 29th day without a case, more than likely there is none of us that are infected."

"We are ready to travel so give us an opportunity to give us a rate, maybe include breakfast while we are staying at your property so that we can enjoy it because the minute we enjoy it we become your ambassadors we become the best ambassadors there are. So the hotel association again is getting the rates from all the properties, all the properties that are willing to happen, and loading them on a BHA page by the end of this week so that Belizeans can get to enjoy our same properties in the country."

"Going forward as of today it's not going to be the same as it was yesterday especially in terms of cleanliness. The first question that any guest is going to be asking or looking at your website for is, how clean is your hotel? How are you maintaining the cleanliness of your hotel so we have brought in one of our maids here, Marlene and as of today this is how they need to dress. They will need to wear a mask they will need to wear gloves before going into a room. No longer would they go to a room without any protective gear because we do not know. The person who has checked into your hotel if that person is bringing COVID-19 into the property."

"When you pass at the front desk you will see now that we have a sneeze guard to protect the agent at the front desk. The agent at the front desk has a mask. We will also be taking the temperatures of guests."

"The Belize hotel association believes that we do not have to hide our smile behind a mask so what we have done is created a mask with a smile. These masks are available at the Belize Hotel Association, any individual can purchase it and they can also put their logos on the mask so that the guest can see your smile through a cloth in front of your face."

Tejada also discussed measures for preventing the re-introduction of COVID-19 once foreign nationals can be allowed to visit Belize. The hope is to secure much needed rapid tests by July 2nd. The absence of those tests would mean an even longer hiatus for international tourism in Belize.

Channel 7


When Will Belize Open Up to International Tourists?

Local tourists only contribute to ten percent of the revenues collected by hoteliers across the country; the bulk of its income is made by international tourists who would take advantage of multiple packages. In our one-on-one interview with Belize Hotel Association President Ted Tejada, he agreed that our borders should remain close due to the spike in COVID-19 cases in Mexico and Guatemala. He is optimistic, though, that by July, the P.G.I.A. could be open to international visitors. 

Ted Tejada, President, Belize Hotel Association

“There are flights available on July second; there is inventory online for July second only through the international airport. The PM has asked us to be calm as an industry because we know that our primary market which is the United States—seventy percent of our market comes through there—we can see what is happening. So in order for us to open as a country, we need some methodology to do rapid testing. Unless we get that machine that can do rapid testing, it is going to be difficult to open any avenue. So the Prime Minister has mentioned that his intention yes is to allow flights to come on July second, but if Belize as a country cannot get a rapid testing machine, that date might have to be pushed over. It is difficult for us as an industry to accept, but we know the circumstances; we can see it. We do not, as a country, want to get affected again. The economic crunch has already been hard on us for it to reoccur, so we are asking all our hoteliers—which we all are feeling the pinch—to be cognizant of that. That we want to do things right; we want to bring in tourists, but we want to bring them when they are COVID-19 free as well. So we have that as a tentative date, but on the other hand we are listening to the medical team, they are the experts on this, and we are paying attention to what they have to say.”

Channel 5


Re: When Will We Open? [Re: Marty] #542353
05/14/20 09:01 AM
05/14/20 09:01 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 66,806
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

.
Marty  Offline OP
Hon. Manuel Heredia:
"Belize's Phillip Goldson International Airport and Borders will remain closed through June"

"BTB to Waive Hotel Taxes for May & June * Tour Guide fee $75 also Waived for June"

Re: When Will We Open? [Re: Marty] #542362
05/15/20 04:52 AM
05/15/20 04:52 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 66,806
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

.
Marty  Offline OP
Belize Looks To July For Tourists

So while Belizeans are now allowed to travel cross district for tourism and recreation, the truth is, those "Queen Betty's" will only go so far to sustain an industry built on yankee dollars.

Tourism interests are itching to re-open their industry - and today the PM gave a tentative date, built upon many "if's":

Reporter
"When will our borders reopen and when, in particular, will the PGIA recommence operations?"
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"I have no comprehensive answer to give, but I can say this much. We are contemplating special and differential treatment for the PGIA, with the hope that general entry into Belize by air can begin even before entry by land and sea. Thus a July 1 re-start for international flights, is the fervent hope of us all. Indeed, it has been the trigger for contingency tourism planning that is now well advanced. Unfortunately, however, we must concede the distinct possibility of a push back. Unless, for instance, either a rapid test is available for us to screen visitors or they can produce a satisfactory passport immunity certificate, it is difficult to see how we could proceed."

Channel 7

==================

In an earlier newscast this week we reported of international flights into Belize already being sold online, particularly on American Airlines. Up to last week, the Prime Minister was not certain that the decision to reopen the airport would be made anytime soon. With today marking the 31st day without a confirmed case of COVID-19 several additional ease in restrictions were announced by the Prime Minister along with plans cited for incoming flights to the Philip Goldson International Airport.



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