Belize just began welcoming international travelers once again with the October 1 reopening of Philip Goldson International Airport (BZE).
With this step, the small Central American country on the Caribbean coast transitioned into Phase 3 of its five-phased 'Travel Reopening Plan'.
Beginning that same day, Belize began accepting non-stop American Airlines flights from Miami and United Airlines direct flights from Houston.
Delta Air Lines is also scheduled to restart its service out of Atlanta on November 20, all of which will enable travelers through those hubs to reach Belize within just three hours.
During this initial phase of reopening for international visitation, guests are allowed to stay hotels or resorts that fall within the 'Safe Tourism Corridor' and have earned Belize's 'Tourism Gold Standard Certificate of Recognition'.
The Safe Corridor has been established, not only to ensure the safety of visitors but to, "limit interactions between guests and the local community thereby reducing the possible spread of the virus," according to the Belize Tourism Board.
The Tourism Gold Standard is a new, nine-point program developed specifically to elevate the tourism industry's health and safety standards, and applies to hotels, restaurants, tour operators, etc.
Businesses that achieve these elevated standards and pass certification receive a 'Gold Standard Seal of Approval', proof of which is made visible to guests to promote peace of mind.
The first set of approved Gold Standard properties includes those that provide full-service stays and comprehensive amenities for guests, such as direct airport transfers, pool or beach access, COVID-friendly guided tours, on-property entertainment, and onsite restaurants or food delivery arrangements.
If you're looking for a safe, exotic escape from the current COVID-19 doldrums, you may want to make Belize your next travel destination. Using tips from the Belize Tourism Board and online travel marketplace belizing.com, we've compiled a list of considerations to keep in mind as you're planning:
-Book your stay at one of Belize's certified 'Gold Standard Hotels'. Properties are continuously being inspected and approved, so travelers should check the official list for updates on approved accommodations.
-Travelers to Belize must provide proof of negative results from a COVID-19 PCR test conducted within 72 hours of their travel. Note that there's still a possibility that you may be testing again at the airport upon arrival. Those without a pre-travel test result will be tested at the airport upon arrival in Belize (at their own expense) and must await their test results while remaining at their designated hotel.
-All visitors to Belize are required to download the Belize Health App on their mobile phone and fill in their registration information within 72 hours of their departure. Once completed, users are issued a unique QR code identification. The app's purpose is to enable Belize's Ministry of Health to manage your stay, provide timely communications and facilitate contact-tracing if need be.
-Those who'll be arriving in Belize for purposes other than tourism will also need to submit a separate online application stating their interests in Belize.
-United Airlines now offers flights to Belize out of Houston from Friday - Sunday, but none Monday - Thursday.
-American Airlines now has flights from Miami available Thursday - Monday, but none on Tuesdays or Wednesdays.
-Delta Air Lines has yet to publish a schedule to Belize, but will reportedly resume its service from Atlanta on November 20.
-Everyone is required to wear an appropriate facial covering at all times while in the airport and maintain six-foot social distancing.
-The Ministry of Health is conducting temperature checks and enhanced health screenings of arriving passengers at the airport. At this point, those without pre-travel PCR test results and their unique QR code are swab-tested, and results will be sent to their hotel.
-Anyone testing positive for COVID-19 upon arrival will be legally required to adhere to a 14-day quarantine at their pre-booked hotel or approved quarantine location.
-Tourist arrivals are issued a Safe Corridor "Welcome to Belize" wristband, which they'll need to show in order to exit the airport, access ground transportation and check in to their Gold-Standard approved hotel.
-Throughout their stay, visitors must adhere to Belize's standard health and safety protocols, including social distancing and the wearing of masks while in public areas. They're also required to check in daily via the Belize HealthApp.
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