I have read with interest your article “Travel Insurance Pushback” in your edition dated Friday, February 4, 2022.
We appreciate your assessment of Tourism Minister Mahler’s remarks that it’s not all about the big guys. This was precisely why the letter of concern was written to the Ministry of Tourism in the first place.
While the larger hotels have more financial resources to leverage the cost of mandatory insurance, the mid-range and small hotels, bed & breakfasts and hostels do not. These small-to-medium-sized properties, comprising the majority of our hotels, depend on the price-conscious traveler to fill their rooms.
Today’s tourist does their own research and price comparisons as they review global and regional vacation destinations. A traditional booking for a family of four who already bear the responsibility of preliminary and post-holiday Covid tests now requires that such a family adds an additional $72 US to their Belize entry cost. Interestingly, our main competitor, Costa Rica, has pulled all restrictions, aside from vaccination requirements, and Mexico is restriction-free. Belize will be the only mandated travel insurance country in Central America.
Although we hear that the travel insurance initiative has the backing of BTIA, we question this. Certainly the 15 members who signed the concerned citizens letter do not support it. To our knowledge, there have been no membership surveys sent out by BTIA to confirm this compliance status, and so we are left scratching our heads.
The Belize Hotel Association, on the other hand, did survey their membership and supplied qualified data to the Ministry of Tourism that the membership requested more information before being able to commit.
In ending, I feel we all agree that this new insurance requirement proposed at the waning of the pandemic is peculiar at best and certainly a negative marketing strategy. With most countries deciding to segue into an endemic stance, open up economies and get people back to work, we are left to wonder — why now?
A concerned citizen