If you're looking for something to do this week or over the summer school holidays, the Belize Audubon Society is encouraging you to visit one of the national parks they manage.� They have been certified with the B.T.B.'s Gold Standard and so the COVID-19 safety protocols are in place.� While these parks and protected areas are central to the tourism offerings for international visitors, they are also open for locals to enjoy a range of activities. Executive Director of the Belize Audubon Society Amanda Burgos Acosta tells us more.

Amanda Burgos Acosta, Executive Director, Belize Audubon Society

"The protected areas manager, the Belize Audubon Society, is actually gold standard. So, we have gone through the process with the BTB to ensure that we have proper signage; proper sanitization locations; the staff are all masked and fully sensitized as to how to approach guests. And we are open for business. So, the parks that are co-managed by the Belize Audubon Society, so Crooked Tree; Halfmoon Caye; Blue Hole; Cockscomb Wildlife Sanctuary; Victoria Peak is closed unfortunately - that s the only site we couldn't open. But St Herman's Blue Hole is also open on the Hummingbird Highway. All of our parks are open from eight until four-thirty. I forgot Guanacaste National Park, as well. But all of these parks are open. They have a mix of trails, swimming and a multitude of activities that you can do depending on the site you go to. But Belizeans should feel safe and comfortable in going to the parks and knowing that that the proper COVID-19 measures are put in place for them."

Andrea Polanco

"How have the numbers been over the past few months or so since you've reopened your parks?"

Amanda Burgos Acosta

"So, we have had a mix - we do have locals who are taking advantage of the parks being open and we have national visitors. Cockscomb is open to camping. So, we have a nice camping ground where you take your tent and everything that's gonna go with you and spend a nice overnight doing some tubing and hiking. So, people have been making the most of that opportunity. We do have visitation however it is not what it traditionally was but it is kind of indicative of where the tourism product is. So, if we are saying we have twenty percent normal visitation coming into the country, Belize Audubon is having fifteen percent normal visitation to the protected area."

And the good news is that entrance fees to the parks are only two dollars and fifty cents per Belizean.

Channel 5