By Jem Smith
For more than a year now since the COVID-19 pandemic made its way to our shores, the cruise tourism sector in our region has been suspended. As we work toward returning to some level of normalcy in the tourism industry to reboot our economy, there has been a multi-sectoral approach towards this goal. This has included the Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Relations, the Belize Tourism Board (BTB), and many other stakeholders. Industry key players, including ministers and BTB staff, have been engaged in meetings to discuss a safe and responsible way to reopen cruise tourism in Belize. They attended the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association-Port Miami Return to Sail Summit during which important topics were covered. This includes when and how cruising will return to the Caribbean, Central and South America, and Mexico; the new protocols in cruise destinations, including the impact for tour operators and shore excursion operations, and creating opportunities for destinations to have more of their populations join cruise line families.
Belize is now preparing to welcome Carnival Vista, which is operated by Carnival Cruise Line, to Belize City on July 7. The ship will embark from Galveston, Texas and will be the first ship to call on Belize since the suspension of the industry in 2020. While this is undoubtedly encouraging news for thousands of Belizeans that work in the tourism sector and who are looking forward to welcoming cruise guests to our shores, it may be of concern for other Belizeans as they take their health and safety into consideration. Nonetheless, the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW) says that protocols will be in place to minimize any potential risk. These risks are very real but the economy needs this contribution from the tourism sector.
By Jem Smith