Belize Is a Front Runner in the World of Responsible Travel Initiatives

by Khaila Gentle

From hunting invasive lionfish to going plastic-free, Belize is a leader in the world of responsible travel. Like many of its Caribbean counterparts, the small nation is making strides in shifting the way tourism affects the world around it. And those efforts have not gone unseen. From The Nature Conservancy to, most recently, Wanderlust Magazine, Belize has been recognized for its many responsible travel initiatives. If you’re a conscious traveler, here are some of the ways you can contribute to the Caribbean’s push for more sustainable tourism when visiting Belize.

Similar: Why This Tiny Central American Nation Is Hailed As A Conservation Giant

Fishing for an Invasive Predator: Wanderlust Hails Belize for Responsible Travel Initiatives

Perhaps one of the country’s most well-known responsible travel initiatives, lionfish hunting tours are Belize’s response to the rapidly reproducing lionfish invading its waters. In a feature this month, travel magazine Wanderlust praised the country for its “innovative environmental preservation” efforts.  That includes the Fish Right, Eat Right program, which promotes sustainable fishing practices (including suggesting that local restaurants and hotels add lionfish to their menu. Meanwhile, resorts like Hamanasi in Hopkins offer spearfishing tours and local entrepreneurs like Belioness are making jewelry out of lionfish fins and spines.

How you can help: Look for the Fish Right Eat Right sign on local restaurants. Order lionfish when it’s on the menu. Book a lionfish spearfishing tour.

Wildlife Conservation

From community-led efforts to refuges for the wounded and the abandoned, Belize has been doing wildlife conservation right for decades. In the Belize District, the Community Baboon Sanctuary, found in the village of Bermudian Landing, has been helping maintain populations of Black Howler Monkeys – once threatened by logging, hunting, and habitat destruction. Meanwhile, the Best Little Zoo in the World (The Belize Zoo), acts as perhaps the country’s most renowned and beloved wildlife sanctuary.

How you can help: Visit local wildlife conservation attractions like the Green Iguana Conservation Project in San Ignacio, The Belize Zoo, and the Community Baboon Sanctuary.

Similar: A New Series by The Belize Collection Is Putting a Spotlight on Local Conservationists

Going Plastic-Free

Belize has officially broken up with single-use plastics and is one of the few countries around the world to have done so. Since it was first announced in January 2020 the country has been phasing out single-use items like styrofoam and plastic “clamshells”, plastic utensils, and plastic bags. In the hospitality industry, visitors to Belize may stumble upon resorts that forego plastic water bottles for refillable water containers in rooms and some that may even offer reusable bottles.

How you can help: Ditch the single-use plastics. Utilize reusable utensils when you can, including reusable straws and water bottles.

Learning More About Conservation in Belize

Education is quite a powerful tool, and it’s one that Belize has been utilizing to support its conservation efforts. The Belize Collection’s Coffee with Conservationists series, for example, takes the time to feature local conservation heroes and shine a spotlight on the amount of work and effort that goes behind conservation in the country.

How you can help: Make an effort to learn more about Belize’s local conservation efforts through research and even programs like Coffee with Conservationists. 

Embracing Responsible Travel

With tourism generating approximately 41% of Belize’s national income, the preservation of Belize’s natural resources is important in more ways than one.  However, as Wanderlust put it, over-tourism can put “tremendous pressure on local infrastructure, pushing locals who are unable to afford rising costs out of the area” and much more.

Change doesn’t come about by itself. People make change happen.

-Jamal Galvez, Coffee with Conservationists

(by The Belize Collection)

Thanks to the changes that have slowly but surely been arising, though, and thanks in no small part to Belize and other nations’ responsible travel initiatives, a much more sustainable travel industry may be on the horizon.

Featured Photo by Hamanasi Adventure & Dive Resort

Related Articles