The public, and in particular law enforcement, needs to be sensitized as to the importance of the tourism industry to this country. We should not just believe and take for granted that there won’t be repercussions for treating our visitors badly, especially at this time. We could all criticize the government for not having any vision and making tourism the only game in town.
The travel industry is one of the world’s largest, which came to a screeching halt when Covid-19 made an unwelcome visit to our shores in March of last year. In Belize this industry was responsible for approximately 45% of the economy and also was the leading foreign exchange earner. Because of the pandemic, this sector of the economy collapsed, and tens of thousands of people lost their jobs, with many small and medium-sized businesses now struggling to stay afloat.
Tourism has been good to this country over the years, so it’s important that not only the stakeholders of the industry but the general populace make the extra effort to protect and defend this fragile but vital industry. There are thousands of Belizean families that have been adversely affected. Last October there was very strong opposition to the opening of the international airport. The government still went ahead and did it anyway. Today we can see that it was the right decision to help jumpstart this ailing economy. We must be cognizant of the fact that we are not the only country in the world where tourism flourishes. There are other countries which suffered the same fate and are now making the necessary adjustments to accommodate their visitors.
Belize is a topnotch destination in this region, and surely this industry will rebound significantly. How long we will be able to sustain this rush will depend on how well we treat our visitors. Besides our amazing natural wonders, we have also been known for being a friendly people. This may be insignificant to some, but this awesome quality is an important factor for the sustenance of the industry. It also enhances the visitor’s experience upon their arrival. I will agree that no one is above the law, but in the same vein, we must be more considerate to our guests who come to our shores. Their presence here goes a long way to help resuscitate this economy. You do not have to work in tourism to make a positive impact on the industry. We are all part and parcel of the amazing destination known as Belize. We all know that the first impression is always lasting.