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Jan 22, 2021

Prez Biden’s Executive Order on International Travel Affects Tourism Countries

On Thursday, the new U.S. President Joe Biden signed a flurry of executive orders within his first twenty-four hours in office.  But one of those executive orders can have grave consequences for tourism-based economies like Belize. The Biden Administration now requires a recent negative COVID-19 test result before departure and quarantine on arrival as per the C.D.C. guidelines, which is ten days. Since the announcement, hoteliers have been reporting cancellations. It is another blow for the tourism industry that is already struggling to survive. News Five’s Hipolito Novelo reports.

 

Hipolito Novelo, Reporting 

An executive order signed by President Joe Biden on Thursday is raising concerns from tourism-based economies. In Belize, several hoteliers report that tourists are canceling reservations due to the new C.D.C. guidelines for persons traveling to the U.S.A.

 

Ted Tejada

Ted Tejada, President, Belize Hotel Association 

“When this news was broken, we started to see a flood of cancellations.”

 

…and that’s because the executive order mandates that anyone traveling to the U.S. must produce proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test before entry. The executive order also mandates the travelers to the U.S. are “required to comply with other applicable C.D.C. guidelines concerning international travel, including recommended periods of self-quarantine or self-isolation.”  But that is where it gets confusing, says B.T.I.A. President Stewart Krohn.

 

Stewart Krohn, President, B.T.I.A. 

“The problem seems to be more one of confusion a part of people holding reservations. They don’t want to cancel. They don’t want to postpone. They want to travel. But they are just not sure what is going on. I am not speaking about the testing part. The testing part we can answer their questions very easily because as you are aware both the public and private sector has reacted very quickly in terms of getting testing sites set up. The testing apart from the expense is not so much the problem.”

 

The concern for tourists is the likelihood that they will need to quarantine for up to ten days upon return to the U.S.  Krohn says this executive order attempts to scare U.S. citizens into not leaving their country.

 

Stewart Krohn

Stewart Krohn

“The impression that I am getting is this is kind of a let me call the scare tactic. They clearly don’t want Americans to travel abroad and presumably come back with this new variant of COVID-19. But if you think about it, the United States out of all the countries in the world really has done the highest rate of COVID-19 and we all know that the variant is in the United States and will certainly multiply. So why they think that someone from Belize or Jamaica or anywhere in the world is going to somehow contaminate their country in which the virus is already out of control it does not seem to make a whole lot of sense. It seems that this latest executive order is kind of trying to scare people to stay home.”

 

…and if tourists stay home, so do their American dollars, and right now, those in the industry need those dollars, especially since the tourism industry remains on its knees, struggling to bounce back. To keep bookings alive, Krohn talks to his guest in a frank manner.

 

Stewart Krohn

“Tell them do you really thing the federal government is going to follow up after you get home, they are knock on your door after you get home? It doesn’t seem sensible. The United States has much more important things to worry about right now including an insurrection by their own citizens. So, you don’t want to tell people to disregard this thing but to tell you the truth it doesn’t look like it is very serious.”

 

However, what is serious is the negative effects it can have on an already weakened tourism industry.

 

Stewart Krohn

“It will definitely have a negative impact because there are many travelers and I don’t blame them that are going to be a little bit frightened by this thing.   I am not about to tell my clients that the government is going to check up on them. I can show them the document what the WhiteHouse.gov says. It is not clear to me that the government is going to go check up on them. To me it sounds like a lot of legal gibberish, trying to scare people. I don’t know if you have time today but you want to call the U.S. Chargé d’affaires and ask him what the heck is going on. Let him read the thing and ask him what he thinks of it because it makes absolutely no sense.”

 

News Five contacted the U.S. Embassy in Belize for clarification, and they referred us to the C.D.C. website. Reporting for News Five I am Hipolito Novelo.


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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