As the threat of COVID-19 slowly becomes a new norm and countries welcome visitors again, our focus shifts towards the challenges that small tourism and creative businesses may continue to face. T the reopening will be a slow, gradual process to ensure that the appropriate health and safety measures are in place before Belize’s tourism can return pre-COVID. With this new start, we cannot help but think about how to create a better, more sustainable and resilient tourism industry. We believe the answer lies in education for you – guests of Belize – about the important of heritage-based businesses for the tourism industry!
How can you support sustainable tourism during a global pandemic, and what does this have to do with heritage you ask? It is simple. The most impacted by this virus have been the local and small businesses. Within the tourism industries, these include artisans, artists, cultural and art co-operations, hostel owners, small tour operators and local tour guides. These local entities are the founding for preserving the beautiful cultural diversity of Belize for future generations. By continuing to support such local heritage-based businesses, even from afar, you help their efforts to reopen and to feel that their work is still in demand.
How to support Belizean heritage-based businesses during COVID-19:
Regardless of where you are, you can help! Here’s how:
- Follow and support your favourite artists and artisans on social media. We love the creative artisans behind Emilio Perera and Kaj Expressions. If possible, order from them. Or, request a custom-made piece through others like The Art Shack. Some, like Twig & Pearl, can deliver abroad. However, you can also pre-order.
- Many accommodations and tour businesses, like Splash Dive Center of Southern Belize and Maya Walk Tours of Western Belize, are allowing flexible reservations. You can show these businesses that you plan to continue supporting them by booking something for the future. Additionally, this allows operators like Splash Dive Center to continue their education work; like instilling stewardship in local youths through scuba diving.
- Find non-profit organisations that are helping the heritage-based tourism industry and learn from them. Some of our favourites are Cultural Heritage Alliance for Tourism Inc, Heritage Education Network, and even Belize Audubon Society.
- When in doubt, reach out to see exactly what is possible or how you can help. Not to mention, keep your eye out for micro-businesses and remote locations!