A long time ago in a reality far, far away — or in other words, early March this year — travel-related hashtags started making the rounds on social media. ‘Postpone don’t cancel’, ‘rebook don’t refund’, ‘defer don’t drop’ were all variations on the clarion call from champions of industry, as countries around the world started shutting down. And with tourism accounting for nearly 45% of its GDP, Belize thanks you for rebooking your vacation. Now, Belize is officially open for leisurely travel, which means you can safely reschedule your trip. Whether that’s for October 2020 or May 2021, having an open airport is one more step in visitor confidence for rebooking your Belize vacation. And with intimate, boutique resorts and beachfront enclaves, Belize offers a pleasing antidote to the Caribbean’s large-scale mass resorts. So who’s allowed to reopen? What if I get sick and need to rebook again?
1. Rebook Directly with your Resort; Ensure they are Certified as a Gold Standard Accommodation
Firstly, contact your Belize accommodation directly. To accept international guests during this phase of Belize’s Travel Reopening Plans, hotels must be certified as Gold Standard with a Seal of Approval. Tourists can then safely explore Belize’s Tourism Safe Corridor on their vacation; this includes hotels, tour operators, plus other tourism sites and attractions.
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If you did receive a travel voucher for postponed travel, make sure you know the exact expiration date to use it in time; including the extended length of time vouchers can be used, but you should still take note of the date and keep it in mind so you don’t forget and let your funds go to waste. Financially, rebooking rather than cancelling is a lifeline to many Belize resorts and restaurants right now. Not yet ready to travel? Only do so once comfortable, and don’t be afraid to ask for an extension of rebooking deadline dates.
2. Rebook with your airline
Despite most destinations now open, there is still uncertainty in the travel industry right now, so it makes sense to book airfare that comes with a flexible cancellation and rebooking policy. Southwest Airlines has long been popular for their “no change fees” policy, but many other airlines including American and Delta have rolled out flexible cancellation policies through new flights booked by a specific date. By booking flights that can easily be canceled without a change fee, you can protect yourself against losses if you wind up being stuck at home. Recently, American Airlines now allows you to rebook your canceled American Airlines trip online. Previously, you needed to call and speak to an American Airlines reservations representative, which could be an extraordinarily long process.
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3. Stay Updated
Make sure you know your rights when it comes to canceled travel, specifically for canceled flights. U.S. Department of Transportation guidelines states that consumers are required to receive a refund when their flight is canceled. Not to mention, not all accommodations in Belize reopened when its airport did on October 1. Before you travel, be sure to check for updates to Belize’s entry requirements (if any) that may impact your trip.
4. What if I get sick and need to postpone (again)?
People want a holiday to look forward to and there’s still clearly an appetite for travel. However, please do so responsibly. Regardless of nationality or purpose, all travelers arriving to Belize (via its International Airport) will need to test negative for COVID-19. If you get sick before traveling to Belize, contact your hotel directly to express your concerns and need to rebook your vacation. After all, there is no stigma for protecting yourself and others. As tourism will start to recover, a new kind of traveler will emerge – not necessarily richer in money, but more conscious, more of an explorer and less of a sybarite. Plus, Belize offers a holy trinity of winter sun, no quarantine on arrival, and strict health & safety measures. Belize’s travel industry is under an immense amount of pressure as a result of the pandemic, and we do not want to see it suffer further. With a compassionate approach, if you are healthy then all this (and more) will be waiting in Belize. Until then, be safe.
Travel regulations and requirements are subject to change as new developments in COVID-19 arise. It is important to visit www.travelbelize.org/health-safety before booking travel or visiting Belize.
Header photo of a couple in Placencia, Belize by Kevin Quischan Photography.