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Nov 4, 2020

COVID Pandemic High on Agenda List at B.H.A. Annual General Meeting

The tourism industry continues to grapple with the effects of the coronavirus. Though the Philip Goldson Airport has reopened, the data shows that the number of visitors is significantly low and worse; international visitors are not necessarily looking at Belize as a travel destination.  The grim news was discussed today at the annual general meeting of the Belize Hotel Association. Here is News Five’s Isani Cayetano with a report.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The Belize Hotel Association met virtually this morning for its annual general meeting.  The gathering of stakeholders in the hospitality sector comes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  The effect of the dreaded coronavirus disease on the travel and leisure industry is far-reaching and has prompted the BHA to place high on its agenda a discussion on ways of how to recover from the losses in revenue.


Ted Tejada

Ted Tejada, President, Belize Hotel Association

“Tourism produces forty-six percent of the GDP of this country.  It’s a very important segment of our industry.  On March twenty-third, the international airport was closed and since then our hotels had been operating without tourists.  The international airport opened on October first, it has been a very slow start.  I shared earlier in the presentation that between October first to the twenty-fifth, we saw a little bit over three thousand people arrive at the P.G.I.A.  Out of the three thousand, there‘s been only two thousand, twelve tourists that have visited our shores in the last twenty-five days.  So if you were to take two thousand and twelve divided by twenty-five days, it‘s an average of eighty individual tourists coming to Belize.  Normally, we would be having between thirty-five to forty-five thousand tourists visiting the country of Belize.  So it’s been a very slow start.”


According to BHA President Ted Tejada, the focus of this year‘s AGM was to shed light on the changes within the hotel industry based on its largest market which is the United States.  A recent survey indicates that a majority of Americans who can afford to travel internationally are not choosing Belize among their destinations of choice.


Ted Tejada

“We wanted to enlighten our association, our members and hoteliers overall that many of them have opened their doors and in opening their doors, they have been incurring expenses.  In incurring expenses they feel that because of the airport opening they should have positive numbers.  So we wanted to share with them that not only have we only had that number of tourists arriving in Belize, but we looked at other data in the United States and a census that was recently taken out in the U.S, which is our largest market, seventy-five percent of our market from Belize comes directly from the U.S.  It shows that out of a hundred only twenty-four percent of Americans are ready to take an international trip.  We also look at data, when they are traveling, this twenty-four percent that are looking at international travel, what are the countries, what are the first countries that come to their minds?  Mexico and Canada is on top of their minds.  Belize is nowhere near within the twenty countries that they think of traveling when they think of leaving the United States.”


The economic impact of COVID-19 on the tourism and hotel sectors has forced the closure of several boutique hotels who simply cannot afford to remain in business.


Ted Tejada

“We are also sharing that information to see where the Belize Hotel Association, the Belize Tourism Board can inject some marketing dollars and try to capture part of that twenty-four percent directly for Belize.”


Isani Cayetano

“What are some of the stakeholders saying today in terms of the discussion and what they are bringing to the table.  What perhaps, other than what you‘ve shared, are their primary concerns?”


Ted Tejada

“You know, when you look at what tourism or hotels are in Belize, we have eighty-two percent our hotels in the country of Belize that are between five to forty rooms, eighty-two percent, very small, boutique hotels.  These hotels, many of them are not poised to weather the storm.  Actually, as of today, I could tell you, we‘ve had three hotels that are members of BHA who have physically closed their doors forever.  They said, “we are no longer going to be members of BHA, not because we don‘t want to be, but we are not going to exist anymore.  If we see that if this pandemic continues, that is the biggest worry that hoteliers have that they can no longer sustain their mortgages.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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