Posted: Wednesday, July 3, 2019. 2:48 pm CST.
By BBN Staff: Following the death of Dr. Gary Swank, an American tourist who was killed while returning from a fly fishing expedition, many US tourists have canceled their trips to Belize; however, the US embassy in Belmopan says Belize’s travel advisory ranking has not gone up because of the incident.
Keith Gilges, Chargé d’ Affaires of the United States Embassy in Belmopan, explained that there are four tiers to travel advisories for US citizens: Level 1: Exercise Normal Precaution; Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution; Level 3: Reconsider Travel; Level 4: Do Not Travel.
Gilges said that the incident with Dr. Swank is regrettable but that Belize has maintained its Tier 2 ranking in spite of it.
Gilges also said that if incidents like what occurred with Dr. Swank become a trend the US may have to reassess Belize’s ranking, but that he feels that as long as the capacity of the Belize Police Department is improved to prevent such incidents, that Belize will continue to see growing numbers of US tourists.
“The US is gonna continue to partner with Belize to improve citizen security. That’s one of the cornerstones of our relationship…It’s something that we can always get better at and we will continue to partner with the Belizean government to do that,” Gilges said,
Since the incident, several tourist destinations had reported cancellations in scheduled trips, spanning into January 2020. The police department has since placed increased security measures on San Pedro, in response to the incident. The prime suspect in the case,
Christian Espat, surrendered himself to police shortly after the incident.
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