Belize has officially reopened the Philip Goldson International Airport (BZE) welcoming inbound leisure travel for international visitors, with approved hotels and tour operators only.
The decision to reopen the international airport, which was closed due to COVID-19 restrictions in late-March, as well as launch Phase 3 of the destination’s five-phased Travel Reopening Plan, was made in conjunction with the Prime Minister of Belize, the Rt. Hon. Dean O. Barrow.
Travelers looking to visit Belize in 2020-2021 can choose from a new schedule of year-round, non-stop flights offered by American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Airlines. Beginning Oct. 1, Belize will welcome non-stop flights from Miami (via American Airlines) and Houston (via United Airlines).
Similarly, longtime BZE partner Delta Airlines will resume airlift on Nov. 20 with non-stop service from Atlanta. The restoration of direct-flight service enables visitors to get to Belize in approximately three hours or less and is a major milestone in the country’s phased reopening.
In this initial phase of reopening for international visitation, Belize’s Safe Corridor will include hotels, restaurants and tour operators that have achieved the destination’s “Tourism Gold Standard” Recognition.
This 9-point program seeks to enhance the tourism industry’s health and safety standards by adapting new behaviors and procedures to ensure both employees and travelers are confident in the cleanliness and safety of Belize’s tourism product. Businesses that meet the requirements of the Tourism Gold Standard Program are certified and promoted as having implemented these enhanced measures with a Gold Standard Seal of Approval.
This seal certifies industry stakeholders who’ve embraced the safety protocols, and will be visible for all guests where practical, such as tour operator vehicles and vessels, hotel lobbies, primary doors of entry, etc.
“We’re confident the Tourism Gold Standard Recognition Program and Gold Standard Seal of Approval will allow travelers and the tourism industry to operate safely as COVID-19 restrictions are eased,” said BTB Director of Tourism, Karen Bevans. “While visitors will need to adhere to our “new normal” entry requirements and safety protocols, their experience will remain authentic to Belize’s adventurous spirit.”
GOLD STANDARD CERTIFIED HOTELS
As the Belize Tourism Board continues to process applications, inspect and approve new properties, visitors are advised to visit https://belizetourismboard.org/industry-sectors/gold-standard-approved/ for approved properties. It’s recommended travelers visit the site often for updates, as new properties are added daily. Hotels approved to open within the safe corridor:
- Have achieved the Tourism Gold Standard Recognition Program and received approval to reopen
- Are able to provide full service to guests. This means that these properties are able to provide all amenities, including round-trip transport service from the airport, access to a restaurant on property, a pool and/or beachfront, offer onsite activities and provide isolated tours.
- In addition to the above, these properties will also implement:
- Social distancing and the use of facemasks while in public spaces
- Online check-in/out, contactless payment systems, and automated ordering/booking
- Hand sanitizing stations across the property
- Enhanced room cleaning and increased sanitation of public spaces and high-touch surfaces
- Daily health checks for guests and employees
- Designated ‘isolation/quarantine rooms’ for suspected COVID-19 cases and action plans
GOLD STANDARD CERTIFIED TOUR OPERATORS
As with Gold Standard hotels, visitors are advised to review the current list of approved operators at https://belizetourismboard.org/industry-sectors/tourism-gold-standard-tour-operators/. It’s recommended travelers visit the site often for updates, as new operators are added daily. Gold Standard operators:
- Have a “Gold Standard Program Manager” who implements protocols and ensures compliance
- Conduct non-invasive temperature checks when picking up guests
- Ensure social distancing protocols for workers and visitors during tours
- Provide enhanced cleaning and sanitation procedures of tour equipment
- Have a response plan should there be any suspected cases and training plan for employees to ensure preparedness to manage new protocols
Travelers are required to follow new arrival and departure processes to enter and leave the country, all of which are available on https://www.travelbelize.org/health-safety. As the situation continues to remain fluid, these protocols are subject to change.