As Belize sees its first case of ZIKA, confirmed by test samples that were sent to CARPHA, the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Tourism, and all Tourism related Associations and stakeholders are concerned with the impact that this situation may have on tourist arrivals to the country.
On May 17, 2016, in a television interview with Channel 7 News Belize, the President of the Belize Hotel Association, Mrs. Leisa Carr-Caceres expressed the BHA’s views to this imminent crisis situation, while keeping a positive approach. She reiterated that Belize and the region have dealt with many other emergencies and disasters in the past, such as hurricanes, dengue, sargassum, chikungunya and crime factors, but the industry has always bounced back and kept moving forward. This is the same way we must approach this issue. She explained it is all about keeping the guests informed and also about training staff how to deal with guest concerns and safety.
“The reports that we have received, unfortunately, have been more of group cancellations, because a lot of times the person responsible for the group, did not want to run a risk, or maybe for insurance reasons.” said Leisa Carr-Caceres, President of the Belize Hotel Association. “Because these are big cancellations we take them very seriously, but we have seen very few individual cancellations and most of them are related to someone who is pregnant. We have to remember that, we have dealt with mosquito carrying diseases before, and we all know that you shouldn’t have even small places with still water. Try to have insect repellent in your hotel rooms available for guests to use or for purchase, advise your guest to use long pants or long sleeve shirts. Just the general things that in the past we have used, that is what we would recommend now. By keeping your staff well informed, – training your staff how to answer questions from the guests – and never deny that there is a case of it in the country, but rather just let people know what we are doing about it and we keep moving forward.”
Carr-Caceres stated that she does not anticipate that any resorts or hotels will close down as a result of Zika. As she said, hoteliers will manage well. She also informed the media that the BHA is in constant contact with the Caribbean Hotel Association, for information and training in dealing with this public health issue. The BHA has offered to share any information available to them that will assist the public. As a final note, Carr-Caceres added that because Belize is in the in the low season for tourism, this is one of the main reasons that hoteliers, presently, are not feeling any major effects to the industry.