Yesterday, you heard the Director of Public Health and Wellness explain in great detail about the BA.5 sub-variant of the Omicron and why citizens shouldn't underestimate this new dominant form of the COVID virus.

This sub-variant is among the two that have started to spread in the rest of the world, and early scientific evidence suggests that it can cause re-infection. The health experts say citizens can still contract the BA.5 sub-variant, even if they previously caught COVID or received full vaccination and booster shots.

So, what does this new sub-variant mean for the tourism industry? As viewers are aware, the original form of the COVID virus crippled the world's tourism and travel, and nations like Belizeans that depend on this industry, are only just starting to recover.

We got a chance to ask Tourism Minister Anthony Mahler about it today at another event, and here's what he had to say:

Anthony Mahler - Minister of Tourism & Diaspora Relations
"Tourism in Belize is outpacing the region. The region had rebounded by about 50%. We were at about 70% to 72% in terms of overnight arrivals, and we're moving towards a greater rebound for Cruise as well. And so both aspects of the industry are performing well, better than expected, especially during this time. We can't forget that the first few months of this year, which is the lion's share of the high season, were impacted by Omicron, and that spread. People didn't know what to expect. with that wave have at the time, the same thing now with this new spread that is going on. We have to continue to be vigilant, but I think after two years of putting in place the health protocols and the safety measures, we can navigate through we add to this. Yes, it has an impact on us when there is another spread. What you have is staff being in sick, for example, for the airlines - like for August. Globally, the airline industry is going to cancel 26,000 flights. That will have an impact on certain destinations. And so when you have all these labor issues as a result of COVID, and supply chain issues in terms of equipment, needing new planes to be built or boats or trains or whatever it is."

Daniel Ortiz
"What are your thoughts on the fact that this current BA.5 sub-variant of Omicron is the new dominant sub-variant that is afflicting the world? How does that, in your mind, have a possible impact on this part of the tourism season, going into the next high season?"

Anthony Mahler
"Well, just from the numbers on the first couple of weeks in July, I think we're holding strong. We will wait and see how the next few weeks and the numbers that come in, we'll see where they are. But I think we are holding strong."

In today's Cabinet brief, the Government said quote, "Cabinet approved the removal of all public health measures at points of entry, but cautions that in light of the presence of the BA.2 and BA.5 subvariants in Belize, vaccines remain the best protection against severe disease and death from COVID-19." End quote.

Channel 7