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Increasing Number of Tourists to Belize #549251
04/02/21 04:48 AM
04/02/21 04:48 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 79,900
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

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Marty  Offline OP

Tourism's Slow Turnaround…

Today's press encounter allowed us to ask the head of the Belize Hotel Association and the new CEO in the Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Affairs about the slow recovery of the tourism industry.

They told us why March and April of this year show the pace of this important sector's recovery from the pandemic:

Ted Tejada - President, Belize Hotel Association
"We opened on October 1st. We saw at least 4,500 guests coming to Belize - international. In December, a little bit over 10,000. When we saw the new administration in the US come on board, there was mandatory testing before you travel back to the US, and not only, a recommended 7 day quarantine. Immediately, we saw a decrease in numbers in January. I believe it was about 7,500. I can tell you that in February - actually March right now, we have beaten the prognostications that we had. We have over 13,000 people who arrived on our shores for March. And we believe that April is going to be the number 1 month because of Easter. It does taper down a little bit after that, but people are ready to travel, and we need to be ready. We're one of the first countries that are advertising that once you've been vaccinated, you really don't need to bring a test. You're free to come into our country, and that is very important. Our guests don't want to have barriers coming into any country. They're coming on vacation."

Nicole Solano - CEO, Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Relations
"We're looking at a slight, steady increase over the coming months. So, it's encouraging. We have heard from the private sector that bookings have gone up. Obviously, over the Easter Weekend, we have a lot of Belizeans traveling, which is very important as well to keep the industry going and boost the morale for everybody in tourism."

Tourist Interests Calling For Curfew to Be Gone

So, while the monthly arrivals are encouraging, the stakeholders in the tourism industry are insisting that the COVID restrictions, which have been gradually relaxed, continue to impact the country's tourism product.

This morning, the Tourism Ministry's CEO said that there are is a persistent requests for the curfew to start at midnight, or for it to be lifted completely:

Nicole Solano - CEO, Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Relations
"That is definitely. It is something that we have been in constant communication with the Ministry of Health on, trying to ask for them to consider relaxing some of those measures. We do understand that it is impossible to just completely remove those measures because we're still in a time when COVID is a concern. We haven't fully received the vaccinations, and we don't know if there could be another wave. So, it does impact the tourist experience, and so, we have to be aware of that, and I think the tourism industry, in particular, all of our hotels, tour operators, they're conscious of that, and they do not want to see measures imposed upon. They want to see restrictions relaxed. So, I think that they understand the importance of being responsible, acting responsibly, and making sure that their guests follow the protocols."

Reporter
"Is there any specific restriction that maybe they would want a little more relaxation on? Have they communicated any of those to the Ministry?"

Nicole Solano
"Yes, several, actually. The curfew is an issue. Right now, it's still 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. So, of course, the tourism industry would like to see the curfew removed completely, but I think they're asking for consideration for at least a midnight [curfew], which I think the Minister of Health, I heard him say that the 15th of April is when they're going to reconsider what happens depending on the effects of Easter, which I think is fair. And I think also, the tourism industry recognizes that that is what we need to do. Hopefully, come April 15th, we can see either complete removal of the curfew, or further relaxation to midnight. There's also the matter of outdoor restaurants currently having to operate at 50% capacity. I know that our outdoor restaurants want to be able to increase their capacity. Indoor restaurants also want to operate. So, that is another issue. Transportation wants to operate at 100%. So, those are the main things. Bars are still not allowed to be opened. So, all of these things impact the tourism industry."

Airlift Recovering

The press also asked the CEO to discuss the gradual return of air carriers to Belize, and the positive effect they will have on the recovery of tourism.

Last night, we told you how COPA Airlines will resume services to Belize that were suspended due to the pandemic. The CEO said that recovery will get a much-needed boost with each airline company that resumes flights to Belize:

Reporter
"I had spoken to the Minister of Civil Aviation, Mr. Andre Perez, and he informed me that this coming Saturday will be one of the busiest Saturdays has seen in some time. So, can you comment?"

Nicole Solano - CEO, Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Relations
"Yes, airlift is very important. We need to be able to have airline capacity and seat capacity coming into Belize, and what we're seeing, really, is an increase in that capacity. The airlifts that have traditionally served Belize, most of them are coming back, and then we're seeing new routes as well. So, Saturdays are typically busy days, because we have additional flights that are weekly. So, Saturday has always been busy, this one, yes, in particular, being one of the busiest. And about COPA, we have an indication that they will be resuming flights to Belize in June. I think that has already been announced to the media. There are still some details that we're working out with them. But, its extremely good news, because we need the airlift in from South America, and that would come in through Panama."

Cruise Tourism Sailing For a June Comeback?

And while overnight tourism is steadily regaining its footing, what about cruise tourism? That's been on a total flatline for over a year now. But the CEO says latest indications are that this industry might see a slight return as early as the summer of 2021. She said that the issue facing the US cruise companies is that the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention is not yet ready to lift restrictions on cruise operations:

Nicole Solano - CEO, Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Relations
"With regard to cruise tourism, the announcement had been made by CDC that the conditional sale order will not be lifted before November 1st. So, that is the current date that we have from CDC. However, the cruise lines are now looking at operating out of home ports in the Caribbean. So, that will give us some opportunity for a potential restart before then. Initially, we had thought the end of May, early June, may not be so soon. We don't have a confirmed date yet for Belize, but we are very hopeful that within the summer months, we'll be able to add on, or August, something before November, we'll be able to have itineraries for Belize."

Channel 7



Re: Increasing Number of Tourists to Belize [Re: Marty] #549254
04/02/21 04:55 AM
04/02/21 04:55 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 79,900
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

.
Marty  Offline OP
Tourism Trends: Increasing Number of Tourists to Belize

While domestic tourism during the COVID-19 pandemic has helped with the survival of the industry, since October first when the P.G.I.A. opened, there has been an increase in international tourist arrivals to the jewel. While it is nowhere where it was pre-COVID, the numbers continue on an upward trend.

Nicole Solano, C.E.O., Ministry of Tourism & Diaspora Relations


“In January, we actually saw a decline when compared to December. In February we saw an increase and in March as well, an increase over February. So that is very positive. So we are seeing a slight steady increase over the coming months. So it is encouraging. We have heard from the private sector that bookings have gone up. Obviously over the Easter weekend, we have a lot of Belizeans travelling which is very important as well to keep the industry going and boost the morale for everybody in tourism. Belize already is poised to receive the travellers who want to social distance and want to be in a destination that isn’t crowded. So our product already speaks for itself, our product is already is easy to market, but we need to communicate that to the main market. So at the B.T.B. what they are doing is going back to the basics, they are trying to make sure that they can get new content that can showcase what Belize is all about and then communicate that through all of the digital marketing channels.”

When Will Cruise Tourism Really Start?

The anticipated resumption of cruise tourism in the region at the end of May early June may not stand true at this point in time. That is because the Centre for Disease Control will not lift its conditional sail order until November first, 2021. So when will cruise tourism start?

Nicole Solano, C.E.O., Ministry of Tourism & Diaspora Relations


“The announcement had been made by CDC that the conditional sail order will not be lifted before November first. So that is the current date that we have from CDC, however, the cruise lines are now looking at operating out of home ports in the Caribbean. So that will give us some opportunity for potential restart before then. Initially, we had thought end of May, early June. It may not be so soon. We do not have a confirmed date yet for Belize, but we are very hopeful that within the summer months, we will be able to add – or something before August – we will be able to have some itinerary for Belize.”

Channel 5


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