Belize’s International Airport To Remain Closed on IATA’s Advice

by Carolee Chanona

In a virtual press conference on May 29, Prime Minister Dean Barrow announced Belize’s Philip Goldson International Airport, will reopen under approval from the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Belize also raised the principal condition that travelers would need to present a negative PCR COVID-19 test taken in the last 72 hours before departure. While there wаѕ nо оbјесtіоn frоm thе аіrlіnеѕ ѕеrvіng РGІА about the 72-hour negative test requirement, thе Іntеrnаtіоnаl Аіr Тrаnѕроrt Аѕѕосіаtіоn (ІАТА) dіѕаррrоvеd of Belize tentative reopen date of July 1; rесоmmеndіng thаt the country wаіts to reopen untіl а rаріd tеѕt is available for рrе-bоаrdіng. For this reason, Belize cannot confirm its previous tentative date of July 1, unless the mass availability of reliable rapid testing becomes available. Instead, Belize will reopen on the advice of the IATA.

As of May 29, Belize has gone 46 days without reporting a new COVID-19 case; all coronavirus cases in Belize recovered as of May 6. Belize recorded a total of 18 cases and 2 deaths.

 Tourism is 45 percent of our GDP, so you can imagine we need to have our guests back sooner than later,” says Tanya McNab during an interview with Condé Nast Traveller, “I think we are all nervous that this is a totally new normal.”

Belize’s international airport cannot confirm an announced date to reopen without rapid testing, as advised by IATA. Photo courtesy Maya Island Air.

Other Caribbean nations announce reopening dates

Belize is among other Caribbean destinations that have seen the crippling effect of no international arrivals; tourism has been the largest contributor to Belize’s GDP. With economies heavily dependent on tourism, Caribbean countries across the region are eager to reopen their borders. Not to mention, CARICOM endorsed plans for a phased reopening of Caribbean borders solely to intra-regional travel in the first instance, for as early as June. Given the COVID-19 crisis being “largely contained” within the region, here’s how Caribbean nations, like the US Virgin Islands, plan on doing that safely.

The USVI will be the first tourism destination to officially reopen in the Caribbean.

The US Virgin Islands will be the first tourism destination to officially reopen in the Caribbean

As of June 1, The United States Virgin Islands (USVI) will reopen for leisure visitors, announced by USVI Tourism Commissioner. That will make USVI the first Caribbean destination to officially reopen for tourism. Not only is the USVI finalizing its public health and tourism protocols for the return of visitors next week, but they do so under a state of emergency; their state of emergency will remain in effect through July 11.

“We did not want to rush to reopen in reaction to what other destinations are doing. Instead, we have engaged in data-driven, risk-based analysis. That is in conjunction with the Virgin Islands Department of Health. Plus, federal guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other stakeholders.”

USVI Tourism Commissioner Joseph Boschulte

The USVI Department of Tourism has also prepared a series of “Health and Safety Guidelines for the USVI Tourism Industry”; it’s what officials are calling a “comprehensive master document”. This will effectively serve as guidance for all tourism stakeholders.

When it reopens on June 1, the USVI will be the first tourism destination to officially reopen. Meanwhile, the hospitality industry in Belize is particularly keen on more details from IATA on when the country can reopen.

Related Articles