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Oct 11, 2021

Should Restaurants Expect Visitors to Show Proof of Vaccination?

Nicole Solano

While on Open Your Eyes, the Director of the Belize Tourist Board, Evan Tillett said bringing visitors back remains the big challenge. He says vaccination remains key, and the sector’s front line workers have stepped up to get their jabs. But CEO Solano says what works to protect local Belizeans may not work for tourism and requiring visitors to show proof of vaccination before entering a restaurant has been a source of contention for stakeholders.


Evan Tillett

Evan Tillett, Director, BTB

“Definitely COVID remains the major challenge of tourism. At the end of the day, if you are a tourist, you want to know that where you are going is safe. In May, June, July, we were trending really good, in terms of our arrival numbers and tourism was doing well. However, because of the Delta variant and the fears caused by the Delta variant, we see where August and September kinds struggled. As the Delta variant fears subside, we should see an improvement in terms of numbers going into the high season. It is critical for us to continue to push the vaccination mandate. I think we have an opportunity in Belize because we have access to the vaccines for us to try and get people vaccinated, so we can return to some sense of normalcy. The tourism industry, I know are doing their part. Initially, through the lobbying of our Minister, we have gotten about eight thousand vaccines, specifically for frontline tourism workers in a very short time. That eight thousand was taken up and surpassed in terms of the people in the tourism sector.”


Nicole Solano, C.E.O, Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Relations

“The ease of travel, the ease of entry, tourists are still looking for destinations where you don’t have so many restrictions. As Mr. Tillett mentioned, they don’t want to be under any strict rules. They will simply look for a destination that does not have a long list of requirements that are needed. So, absolutely, from the Ministry of Tourism standpoint, we are in constant communication with the Ministry of Health as we have from the beginning of the year, trying to see how we can strike that delicate balance. Right now, the fact of the matter is that there is a regulation in place where only vaccinated tourists can enter restaurants. We believe that that is not going to be a long term solution. We know our Minister is in constant contact with the Minister of Health and other ministers in cabinet to try to get some relief in that area because we have made the decision that we will not limit entry to only vaccinated tourists. Therefore, unvaccinated tourists need to be able to have access to these facilities. And this is something that is being raised, it is something under consideration. The private sector has raised that point over and over and over again. Both Mr. Tillett and I and everybody at BTB, in terms of our customer relations, we have been getting tons of questions and fielding tons of questions related to this and we are trying to find a balance because much of what you currently see in the regulations, trying to stem COVID for the general public in Belize, just simply doesn’t work for tourism.”

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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