May 6, 2021

Dear BTIA Members:

In communicating with our membership on a roughly monthly basis, I usually begin with a general introduction, update the latest happenings in the industry, and finish with what I judge to be an important core message. Today, however, I would like to cut to the chase with the core message upfront.

GET VACCINATED! NOW!

GET YOUR EMPLOYEES VACCINATED! NOW!

GET YOUR COLLEAGUES VACCINATED! NOW!

GET YOUR FAMILY VACCINATED! NOW!

GET YOUR FRIENDS VACCINATED! NOW!

If you want to see the tourism industry—and, by extension, Belize’s entire economy— recover as fast as possible, the most critical thing we can do is assure that every Belizean receives their two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine.

WHY is this so important?

Let us look at the big picture based on what we see at home and abroad concerning the pandemic.

  1. There are things that we can control and things we cannot.
  2. For example, we cannot control the pace of vaccinations in our largest market, the USA. We cannot prevent the rise and fall of Covid-19 infections in America or anywhere else in the world. We cannot control the USA requirement that all people entering the country have a negative test result.
  3. What we CAN control is what happens here in Belize. Based on what we see in India, Brazil, Costa Rica and Europe, nations that think they have the pandemic under control often find out that within weeks the pandemic is raging with their health systems on the verge of collapse. If you believe that such a catastrophe cannot happen here, you live in a dangerous bubble.

So, what do we do to prevent Belize from becoming the next India?

First, we must be smart, flexible, and stay on top of the evolving situation.

Not only do we not impose tighter restrictions for entry into Belize, but we can continue to gradually and safely EXPAND the ease of entry as has been done over the last four months. Why? Visitors to Belize are either fully vaccinated or tested negative at entry. They will not be the cause of an explosion of the virus in Belize.

As experience has painfully taught us, WE are our own biggest enemy.

Every time we evade protocols by not social distancing, washing hands, or wearing a mask, we increase the likelihood of mass infection. Yes, you have heard this mantra too many times and like most Belizeans are just tired of curfews, masks and hand sanitizer. Realistically, fighting the tendency toward Covid-19 fatigue with education campaigns and/or cracking down on violators will only take us so far. What will take us much further is to get as many people vaccinated in as short a time as possible. That effort is well within our power.

The Minister of Health has told us that there will be enough doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to do the job. We trust he is right. We applaud the Tourism Minister for pushing to prioritize the 8,000 vaccine doses for our frontline tourism workers. As I write this letter, all indications are that more and more Americans are ready, willing, and able to travel internationally in the coming months. They will be flocking to Belize in greater numbers, provided that Covid-19 cases and deaths in Belize continue to stay low.

The best way to ensure that outcome is to get vaccinated! NOW!

Yours in Sustainable Tourism,

Stewart Krohn

President, BTIA