Belize Hailed As “A Leader in Sustainability” by Forbes Magazine

by Khaila Gentle

In an age where “sustainability” and “green travel” have become buzzwords in the world of tourism, Belize does more than just talk the talk, says Forbes Magazine. In an article published last week, Forbes contributor Judy Koutsky wrote that “Belize has set up several programs to not only attract travelers, but to protect the land.”

With Belize’s economy intricately tied to the tourism industry, as is the case with many other Caribbean nations, preserving the environment is not a should but a must. More than that though, ensuring that there is something left for the country’s future generations is a priority.

The article by Forbes highlights several of Belize’s conservation efforts, including the Maya Forest Corridor partnership and the moratorium on offshore oil exploration and drilling. You can read an excerpt of the Forbes article, “Belize: A Leader In Sustainability” below:

Belize: A Leader In Sustainability

Verdant vistas await at Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. Photo by Kevin Quischan Photography

For many countries, at the heart of sustainability is tourism. Many countries depend on tourism dollars as their primary source of income. Preserving their environment is not only the right thing to do, but it also makes good economic sense.

Belize is located in Central America, but it also has a decidedly Caribbean feel, making it appealing for visitors who want to go snorkeling and diving in some of the most beautiful water in the world. It’s home to the second-largest barrier reef. It has a plethora of small, unique islands off the coast, with rainforests blanketing the mainland.

For example, to protect endangered species such as the jaguar, Belize is a partner of the Maya Forest Corridor, protecting landscapes from Belize’s Maya Mountains, through the tri-national Maya forest of Belize, Mexico, and Guatemala. This region is the most extensive continuous stretch of jungle in Central America.

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Snorkeling the Belize Barrier Reef. Photo by Duarte Dellarole

More than 70% of the country is forested, making it a mecca for wildlife. Belize has over a hundred protected areas, many of them serving as animal sanctuaries. For example, the Community Baboon Sanctuary spans 20 miles and is home to over a thousand howler monkeys, birds and other mammals, including jaguars and manatees.

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A Wanaragua Dancer. Photo Courtesy of Hamanasi

Another key effort is to support local community tourism so travelers can engage with and learn about the local Garifuna culture. This can involve eating the local Creole cuisine, experiencing the traditional Garifuna dance called Punta, and purchasing handicrafts and other items from local artisans.

Read the entire Forbes article here.

How Can You Lean Into Sustainable Travel While in Belize?

Belize Chocolate Tour

A farm-to-table experience with Copal Tree Lodge’s chocolate tour.

Planning a trip to Belize? Here are a few ways to embrace sustainability while here:

1. Support local businesses and artisans

“Keeping your dollars local” can really help out tourism-dependent communities and destinations that were hard hit by the pandemic. The easiest and best way to do this is through supporting locally owned businesses and artists.

2. Travel off-the-beaten path

Choosing destinations that are off-the-beaten path can be a great way to help prevent over-tourism, which can put a strain on local infrastructure. We’re sure you’ve seen it – the swelling crowds at the Taj Mahal, the long lines in Thailand. Over tourism can also affect ecosystems, and price locals out of their own communities. As Lonely Planet put it, “taking the road less traveled and visiting under-the-radar spots to avoid crowds is one way to be responsible.”

3. Respect local communities

Make an effort to respect and embrace local cultures, including any differences they may have from your own.  By doing so, you might leave with far more than just memorable photos of your trip.

4. Choose eco-conscious accommodations

Seek out those businesses that are going the extra mile to reduce their impact on communities and on the environment. In Belize, there are quite a number of eco-conscious stays ranging from luxurious to budget-friendly.

Featured Photo by Duarte Dellarole for Ray Caye Island Resort. 

This article was adapted from the Forbes Magazine article "Belize: A Leader in Sustainability" by Judy Koutsky. 

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