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Mar 12, 2020

35% in Cancellations – Massive Impact of Coronavirus to Overnight Tourism Sector

Ted Tejada

Even as the government officially announced today that there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Belize, the virus is already having and will continue to have a major impact on the tourism industry and by extension the economy. In the region, there have been several cruise ship cancelations and tourists have been postponing their holidays. Here, the industry is facing cancellations of hotel and resort reservations across the length and breadth of the country. Travel bans in the region on European travellers have translated into thirty-five percent in cancellation so far. News Five spoke to President of the Belize Hotel Association, Ted Tejada, who says that the impact that the virus has had on the overnight sector is massive, even though there are no confirmed cases as yet in Belize.

 

Ted Tejada, President, Belize Hotel Association

“We have been monitoring this since it broke in January. Actually it did not hit Belize until last week. Last week Friday is when the country started to receive cancellations. As of Friday, there was substantial amount of rooms being cancelled throughout the industry. As of today, yesterday the number was twenty-six percent in cancellation; up to today, the number is already at thirty-five. And it is not that these guests are not trying to come to Belize. Now Guatemala has closed its border as of today for Iberia which is the airline that comes directly from Spain to Guatemala. As of Monday, El Salvador had closed its border for European travellers. So what does that pose, most of our European travellers that come in through the western border are no longer able to arrive in the country because that border has been shut due to Guatemala, El Salvador and Costa Rica as well. So all our Spaniards, Italians, French—none of them can access the country through that medium. Now the United States has also closed its border for most of the European travellers so none of the Europeans that are coming in through Miami, Houston, Dallas can access the country. So we are looking at the European market at this moment, no longer being able to access Belize. The primary goal is to ensure that all our employees are safe, all Belizeans are safe, but the economic crunch that this coronavirus will have on the economy of Belize will be massive.  Even though as the hotels we host them, we have restaurants, tour guides, they also buy tours, we buy vegetables, we buy meat, we buy uniforms. So the effect that it is going to have on the industry is going to be massive.”

 

In terms of the American market, tourists are still travelling to Belize, but Tejada says that many have postponed their trip until after August.


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