The Belize Tourism Board (BTB) Wednesday released a new set of health and safety protocols that will guide the restart of cruise operations in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country.
The BTB said that the protocols outline the necessary adjustments and adaptations to be undertaken at each step of the cruise cycle — from home port, to destination and return.
It said these protocols are the result of many hours of hard work by the Belize Cruise Taskforce, working in collaboration with the Americas Cruise Taskforce and the Central American Cruise Subcommittee, to develop special health and safety protocols in line with the US-based Centers for Disease Control (CDC) conditional sail order.
The BTB said that these protocols also incorporate recommendations from the Healthy Sail Panel, Belize’s Ministry of Health and Wellness and local stakeholders.
“There appears to be light at the end of the tunnel for reopening of the cruise industry. The outlook appears much more positive than it has for the past year, “said Tourism and Diaspora Relations Minister Anthony Mahler.
“It is vital that we are adequately prepared for the return of our guests, and the key to our success lies in developing a strategic framework to ensure a safe and secure experience for passengers, crew and the destination,” he added.
For four consecutive years, Belize welcomed over one million cruise passengers annually to its shores. In 2019, prior to the coronavirus (COVID19) pandemic, Belize received almost 1.2 million passengers with 68 per cent of travellers arriving at Fort Street Tourism Village in Belize City and 32 per cent arriving at Harvest Caye in southern Belize.
“The BTB and the Ministry of Tourism & Diaspora Relations are committed to the full recovery of the cruise industry to pre-COVID numbers, and to enhance the Belize tourism product to make it more competitive within the region,” the statement said.
It said that the Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) will resume with the first test sail on August 4, followed by the official first guests to call on Harvest Caye on August 9 “signalling the reopening of the cruise tourism sector in Belize.
“It has been over a year since the cruise industry in our region has been suspended, and thousands of Belizeans that work in this sector are now ready to welcome cruise guests to our shores once again, guided by the new health and safety protocols,” the BTB added.