Countless reports and footages have reached News Five about those long lines at the Philip Goldson International Airport. The congestion is reportedly due to the travel insurance that was recently mandated by the Ministry of Tourism for any foreign tourist entering the country. While Tourism Director Evan Tillett confirmed that there is some bottleneck in terms of how quickly a visitor is processed through the system, the complaints are not about having to purchase the insurance, but more about capacity at the P.G.I.A.

Evan Tillett, Tourism Director

"Long lines, in terms of travel particularly, in COVID times are par for the norm. Now in Belize, what we need to do is look at how we can improve the visitor experience in terms of the process through the international airport. I came in last week Sunday and there were no lines at the insurance section of the checkpoints going into the airport. And so I can tell you, those long lines at the airport were there prior to the implementation of the insurance program. And so what we have is a capacity issue at the airport. We at the B.T.B. are doing our jobs in terms of trying to build the air route connectivity to Belize. We are focusing on Europe, we are focusing on regional carriers, [and] we are focusing on building additional routes through the American market. But what you have is a capacity issue at the airport. If we are going to solve the issue, there has to be investment in the airport in order to improve the situation where people aren't on the tarmac. We have to improve the situation where the processing time becomes quicker. That is what we need to do and we need collaboration between the public and the private sector in order to get that done. The insurance, a lot of people now are coming in with the insurance already bought so that is not the issue. The issue is just the processing time. When you have twenty-three, up to thirty flights on the ground within a very small window, then it will create bottlenecks. And what we need to do is try and solve it."

How Long Will Travel Insurance Be Place?

Months before the insurance was rolled out, local and international campaigns informed visitors about the mandatory travel insurance to enter Belize. But with ease of travel and countries relaxing measures, Tourism Director Evan Tillett was asked how long the travel insurance will be in place.

Evan Tillett, Tourism Director

"There is no end date, but it is a benefit for the industry and if we see that there is no need for the insurance as the regulators of the industry then it will be discontinued. But right now it provides a level of comfort for the guests, it provides a level of comfort of the accommodation sector and so the insurance is working. I see where people tested positive and the insurance covers their stay, their meals and so it is really a good situation in terms of the insurance."

Channel 5