Belize: Hon. Tracy Taegar Panton, the area representative for Albert Division, showed concern over the Cabinet’s decision to open Borders of Belize amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tracy Panton asserted, “In a press release of Belize’s government, I noted that the Cabinet has agreed to open our land borders in the North, West, South and in San Pedro to facilitate foreign tourists who wish to visit Belize for recreation and vacation purposes on May 31st, 2021.”
Panton added that she believes in and advocate for the sustainable growth and development of the tourism sector of the country and still, opening borders at this crucial time of the COVID-19 pandemic going on in the world, the decision of opening borders can go wrong and seems to be ill-advised to her.
Following her statement, she cited, “I am also acutely aware that thousands of tourism stakeholders who lost their livelihoods as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic need to get back to work. With less than 10 per cent of our population base fully vaccinated, this decision to prematurely re-open the land borders seem ill-advised and can potentially cause more harm than good.”
“According to BTB Statistics, 75 % of overnight tourists arrivals come through the Phillip Goldson International Airport and, maybe more importantly to note, is that most of our Central American neighbours have had limited access to vaccines. What are we thinking?” she added.
Panton further asked the Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Affairs and Belize Tourism Board to tell the people of the country that how they will manage this process amid the ongoing pandemic in the world.
“Who will decide who is cleared to come across the border? What will be the protocols or the criteria for visitors or foreign tourists?” she asserted.
Panton further stated, “Our land borders are already very porous, and our law enforcement officials have had great difficulty in trying to curtail border jumpers in our efforts to restrict the spread of the virus.”
Adding to her statement, she questioned, “Can the Ministry of Tourism and the Belize Tourism Board also make available, post hast their, Tourism Economic Recovery Plan? While they are at it, can we get details on how the $10-million dollar COVID Relief Fund and the $30-million dollar Stimulus Package for Tourism, as outlined in the plan Belize Manifesto, will get in the hands of our local tourism stakeholders?.”