What if enjoying a Belize vacation was also a way to actively support the environment and help communities inneed? Read on…
Once again, Belize has been featured in Ethical Traveller’s “World’s Ten Best Ethical Destinations 2021.”
While Belize was an“Ethical Destinations” winner in 2017 and 2018, this year’s nod is particularly significant – and for reasons that include a change in the organisation’s methodology for selecting winners.
In addition to their usual selection criteria of environmental protection, social welfare, human rights, and animal welfare, Ethical Traveller said that, after reviewing the list of previous winners from the last five years:
“We investigated how they handled the pandemic and how (it) has impacted their travel and tourism industries. We also researched whether there were any positive initiatives and opportunities emerging from this crisis—strategies, for example, for making tourism more sustainable.”
As our readers and visitors know, The Lodge at Chaa Creek has been synonymous with sustainable tourism and responsible travel ever since its inception as one of Belize’s first eco-resorts back in 1981.
More recently, we’ve been highlighting Belize’s response to the global coronavirus pandemic, and keeping our readers informed about measures that help keep visitors, workers, and communities safe.
So, as we continued reading, our interest grew.
“Belize should be commended for putting the health of its citizens above economic factors. It closed its international airport back in late March and only reopened to tourists on October 1st after developing extensive COVID-19 safety protocols, for which Belize was recognized as an Industry Leader.”
After praising Belize’s weather, cultural attractions, diverse natural beauty, abundant birds and wildlife, Ethical Traveller went on to emphasise the importance of tourism to Belize, and described the toll the pandemic took on the nation before suggesting ways that travellers can help out.
Some of the facts they highlight bear repeating:
- Belize is the most tourism-dependent economy in continental Latin America.
- The travel and tourism sector directly and indirectly represented over one third of Belize’s GDP in 2019
- By October 2020, there was already a 20% decline in GDP
- Tens of thousands of workers in the tourism sector lost their employment
And then Ethical Traveller went on to applaud the ways in which Belize met these challenging circumstances:
“Belize has also taken the pandemic as an opportunity to reflect on the future of tourism. The country has launched an ambitious plan to make its tourism sector more sustainable. This includes investment in infrastructure… ensuring more еquіtу in the industry (along with more Веlіzеаn іnvеѕtmеnt and оwnеrѕhір).
“Another important part of this plan is Belize’s focus on investing in its ecosystems and creating a resilient economy that values and protects the natural resources that sustain it.”
It’s one thing to weather a crisis, but to learn from it, and then use those lessons to make meaningful improvements and safeguard the future – that represents a victory.
And when travellers support destinations that continue to look after their natural environment and local communities even in times of crisis – that’s a majorvictory.
Thank you, Ethical Traveller, for a recognition that means a lot to us, and for helping Belize to recover and move forward by encouraging people to visit.
The ET article concludes by offering advice under the heading of:
What can we do?
“Belize and its citizens need the return of tourism to recover from this crisis. By visiting Belize in an ethical way, travelers can support both the Belizean economy and its ambitious sustainable tourism plan. By the “ethical way” we mean following responsible travel guidelines, such as seeking out locally-owned lodges and providers, and respecting Belize’s strict safety protocols.”
Amen to that.