How the COVID-19 Pandemic Can Make Us More Responsible Travelers 

by Larry Waight
Half Moon Caye by BAS

When we find ourselves traveling again, we’ll probably enter the world with a new set of eyes and ears. We’ll be much more aware of how we greet people, where we dine, and what places we visit. But, the COVID-19 pandemic will also change how we can be responsible when we travel.   

Here are a few ways we will want to take more responsibility for our experiences as tourists when traveling to Belize. 

Protect National Parks and Preserves 

guanacaste national park

Guanacaste National Park. Photo courtesy Belize Audubon Society

For a small country, Belize has an impressive amount of land designated as national parks and protected areas. You can experience unique marine environments such as Hol Chan Marine Reserve and the Laughing Bird Caye National Park along its coast and in the Caribbean Sea. Both of these areas are just two of the natural wonders where you can learn about delicate marine ecosystems. The nearby barrier reef is the largest in the northern hemisphere and is a significant habitat for many threatened marine species. When we visit these special places, it’s crucial to remember that many species, including humans, rely on their existence for food, jobs, or coastal protection. We can help conserve these naturally beautiful places when we support educational programs and treat the land and its wildlife with respect.  

Support Local Artists 

art in belizeThe art scene in Belize is as diverse as its population. The country hosts several annual art festivals, with the Placencia Sidewalk Art Festival and the Belize City Street Art Festival at the top of many visitors’ lists. Cities and towns, such as San Ignacio and San Pedro, also have permanent artisan markets. At both types of venues, you’ll find vendors selling all kinds of local crafts, from jewelry to clothing to wooden statues. Many of these artisans and artists’ businesses have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and the lack of visitors. By buying local art, you are helping to revive these businesses, to provide a livelihood for these artists, and to support the local economy. 

Engage With People 

Belize is a true melting pot of cultures, ethnicities, and races. With over 475,000 people, the majority of its population is made up of Mestizos; which is a combination of Maya and Spanish. Maya, Creole, Garifuna, Chinese, Jamaican, Lebonese, and Mennonites make up the rest of the population. Even though you can hear a wide variety of languages and dialects, English is the official language of Belize. This makes it easy to communicate with vendors, greet strangers, and engage in conversations. Because of COVID-19, we’ve been denied the ability to interact with strangers in foreign lands. Once we start traveling, it will be our obligation to renew our ties to the world; that is, make new friends and become one world again.

When you go to Belize, make it an opportunity to engage in responsible travel by following these simple rules. You will be better off for it. 

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