Posted: Wednesday, June 3, 2020. 8:43 pm CST.
By BBN Staff: The Belize Tourism Industry Association says that there was a surge of Belizean travelers taking advantage of special rates being offered by hotels and other tourism stakeholders over the Labour Day long weekend which brought much needed economic activity into the sector now devastated by COVID-19. The association says that the surge in activity has revealed even greater potential in the local tourism market prompting the BTIA to call for further relaxation of the curfew under the State of Emergency regulations.
Breaking Belize News spoke with BTIA Executive Director, John Burgos, who said that there was a good turnout of local travelers during the long weekend but afterward tourism stakeholders saw little or no business in the days and weekends that followed.
“The curfew in place at the time which involved children not allowed to be on the street after 6 p.m. had families leaving restaurants and bars early which reduced the total revenues that could have been received. The curfew over is limiting the hotels, restaurants, and bars to earn money,” Burgos said. “A 9 p.m. curfew is not good enough; it should be extended to 11 p.m. at minimum to allow families and guests to enjoy a full experience at the restaurant.”
Burgos added that the association’s members have begun looking at ways to further incorporate special rates for local travelers into their long-term plans for operation.
In a recent position paper that the BTIA submitted to the Development Finance Corporation, the association noted that, while estimates vary, approximately 40% of Belize’s GDP is linked to international tourism. When the country went on lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19 the tourism industry suffered, thousands lost their jobs and ended up looking to the state for unemployment relief, which would further place the country in a challenging economic position.
The association stresses that there can be no recovery of the economy without the recovery of the tourism sector, which makes the prospect of increasing local travel to help rejuvenate the industry even more important.
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