Why Belize Is An Up & Coming Eco-Tourism Destination

by Larry Waight
underwater Ray Caye snorkel

Belize is one of the top places in the world for nature lovers to visit. In fact, while other nations in the Caribbean struggle with conservation, Belize has emerged as one of the premier international locations for eco-tourism. Belizeans are proud of the stunning natural beauty and biodiversity to be found in their homeland, and they are serious about protecting and preserving the environment. Although, even before Belize gained its independence in 1981, it was already incorporating sustainable practices in its management of its rainforests and marine ecosystems. Today, with 103 protected areas that include wildlife sanctuaries and national parks, more than one-third of the country is protected from development.

Here are some factors that make Belize a dream destination for eco-tourists and nature lovers: 

1. Over 70% of Belize is covered by its forests
Copal Tree Lodge ecotourism belize destination Toledo

Photo via Copal Tree Lodge

Its protected areas provide a safe haven for everything from the elusive jaguar to the rambunctious howler monkeys as well as sea life like endangered turtles and manatees.  

2. Public-private partnerships abound

The government works with groups such as Oceana, the Belize Audubon Society, Association of Protected Areas Management Organizations, and Programme for Belize to protect its wild spaces. After all, Belize’s co-management is a unique relationship for protected areas.  

3. Belize is home to the world’s first jaguar preserve

Why did the jaguar cross the access road? © Takuto Kurosawa, Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary

Three cheers for the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary! Thanks to cooperation between the government and several villages, Belize also provides refuge to one of Central America’s largest troops of black howler monkeys at the Community Baboon Sanctuary.  

4. In 2019 the country instituted a plastic ban

single-use plastic

This is a gradual phasing out of single-use plastic utensils. While it is in an overall two-year plan, Belize is now in the second phase

5. The Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System has been removed from UNESCO’s Sites in Danger list
snorkeling belize

Snorkeling the Belize Barrier Reef. Photo by Duarte Dellarole

The Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (BBRRS) was proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996 and the government has made great efforts to preserve it. That include an off-shore drilling ban instituted in 2018 alongside harsh punishments for illegal fishing. Not to mention, visitors to the country are asked to avoid disturbing the coral reef, a home for a diversity of marine life.  

6. Belize’s Green Guest Program

Many of Belize’s resorts and hotels participate in a Green Guest Program where visitors are asked to only bring bio-safe personal care products such as shampoos and lotions.  

7. Many of Belize’s resorts and communities are eco-friendly
GAIA Riverlodge ecotourism destination belize

GAIA Riverlodge operates entirely on hydropower.

They minimize their impact on the environment by using filtered rainwater, solar power and other “green” methods. However, most go beyond just this. 

Given the strong commitment shown by both the citizens and the government of Belize to preserve its natural spaces, it’s no wonder that National Geographic considers Belize among the top sustainable travel destinations. Nonetheless for those who love nature, Belize provides a plethora of destinations for eco-tourism; from wildlife sanctuaries, national parks and marine zones to enjoy. 

Header photo via Duarte Dellarole

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