Tourism was the first sector to start showing the impacts of COVID-19. Hotels and resorts in prime tourism destinations such as Placencia, San Pedro, Caye Caulker, Hopkins and the Cayo District, have been sending people home. Every aspect, including taxi operators and hair braiders are without jobs and the agro-processing sector, which supplies products to the tourism industry, has lost its biggest client. The Belize Tourism Industry Association is at the forefront, looking for solutions to reboot the industry. Second Vice President, Stewart Krohn said this morning that there is no guarantee that international tourists will return anytime soon and the industry may be looking at a recovery eighteen months down the road. Krohn says that the best way is for government to assist stakeholders in getting low interest long term loans from international financial institutions.

Stewart Krohn, 2nd Vice President, B.T.I.A.

“You had various properties that came out heroically saying we are not going to lay off our people; we can get through this not realizing that what we are talking about is not a one month thing, it is not a two-month thing, it’s not a three month thing. Minimally, it is an eighteen month. And if you didn’t think it through that hard, now you are in the position where, like John said, you’ve kept your employees, but you are going to run out of money. Some of us will run out of money next week, some of us will run out of money next year. But every tourism operation at some point within that eighteen months, even the healthiest one, is going to run out of money. And that money’s got to come from some place—whether it is bank, whether it is bringing in new shareholders, whether it is selling assets or as B.T.I.A. is proposing, we need the government to make a plan for the long term recovery of the tourism industry and the best way to doing that is to help us access long term low interest loans from the international financial institutions. That’s really the only long term way out that we see.”

Channel 5