And while the COVID infections on Caye Caulker are being closely monitored by the health officials, stakeholders in the tourism industry are already starting to feel the impacts of the rising number of patients that have come with this third wave. Hotel owners have been receiving communication from visitors that they are canceling their vacation bookings.

The majority of them come from North America, Belize's main tourism market source, and they must carefully navigate the spike in COVID infections in their own home countries. But, some of the guests have been keeping informed of what is taking place in Belize, the country they want to visit, and they are re-thinking their travel plans.

This evening, we spoke via Zoom with the new President of the Belize Hotel Association, Alina Saldivar. She provided us with some insight into the recent number of cancelations:

Alina Saldivar, President of the Belize Hotel Association
"The cancellations unfortunately are a big reality right now, not only in Caye Caulker, but we've been getting feedback from our hotel members throughout the destination. So, yes, most of the cancellations are happening for July, August and September. I have some numbers from Caye Caulker. I spoke to one property in particular yesterday, they had 13 cancellations for the month of September coming. I spoke to another hotel in San Pedro: for the month of July, they had 32 room night cancellations, for August they had 6 room night cancellations."

"The cancellations have been happening for these months. It's very unfortunate. Even though it is normally the slow season, we are going into what we are used to be the slow season. I don't think it had to be like that, because I am sure you are familiar with the revenge travel term where last year people were just ready to get out and are very willing to travel. But, unfortunately because of the situation and it's a variety of reasons that they are giving with their cancellations. Some of them are very scared, because of what's happening in the US, numbers are rising in the US, they don't want to travel. Rumors affects us a lot. People hear rumors, social media is something that affects us, because if there are rumors of even though we might not have a shutdown, a rumor of a shutdown affects reservations. People get scared and people they sent emails saying they don't want to get stuck here, they hear rumors of a shutdown. The curfew - some of them simply prefer to put their reservation for a later date because they don't want to deal with a 9pm curfew. So there are a lot of reasons, but the cancellations are a reality."

As you heard, the cancelations are for the months of July, August, and September, and the hoteliers are hoping that Belizeans begin to get strict in their observance of the COVID safety protocols and to embrace the government's vaccination push. Saldivar told us that if the country doesn't get a handle on the virus once again, the cancelations will start to affect the tourism high season, which starts in November:

Alina Saldivar, President of the Belize Hotel Association
"A lot of reservations had come in when we had that time of normalcy for what is typically our high season which is November onwards. So, if you talk to a lot of hotels a lot of them will tell you that they are very full for November, December, January through March already. So the fear now is that we don't get this under control. We need to make sure that this gets under control, so that cancellations don't start come in for those months. All the cancellations we've been seeing is for this time for the next two months or so."

"I've gotten calls from hotels saying what would be your opinion if I said that I would only accept Belizeans to my hotel that are vaccinated. So a lot of the hotels are disappointed that we don't have a mass amount of Belizeans willing to get vaccinated and so those same Belizeans then want to come to the hotels in Placencia, in Caye Caulker, in San Pedro to enjoy, but are not willing to do what we need to do as a community to make sure that those places continue to strive, so you go to Caye Caulker, San Pedro or Placencia and you have a good time not doing the social distancing, not wearing your mask, not abiding by the protocols and then you leave and then you leave Caye Caulker in a risky situation, because then the people that you associated with at the hotels or at the restaurants or at the bars are at risk. So we really feel that the vaccination is important. We encourage everyone to get vaccinated. We are definitely for the vaccine, but we also would like to see Belizeans abide by the protocols - take it more seriously."

The BHA President tells us that despite these setbacks, they continue to tirelessly promote Belize's tourism product.

Channel 7