Belize is open to visitors once again. It opened on October 1st, and is appropriately, following strict rules. Travelers to Belize must test negative for COVID-19 and may only stay at approved Gold Standard Hotels. The Gold Standard includes a nine-point checklist for tourism businesses that includes temperature monitoring, masks, sanitation, training and enforcement and a “safe corridor” program which aims to limit the places that guests can go, both on hotel property and when touring around the country. You can review the full Gold Standard list at https://caribbeanlifestyle.com/gold-standard-program/ and on Episode 23 of The Belize Travelcast.
We are actively pursuing our own Gold Standard certification, and we will of course make an announcement as soon as we achieve it.
Sticking to these new guidelines makes sense in terms of ensuring safety for visitors, of course, but it also inspired us to look at some other changes we have been thinking about for a while. One of the things that struck us when we first arrived here, and which strikes every visitor, is how closely we are intertwined with nature. The country of Belize is a natural paradise, and Ambergris Caye is as close to the water as you could possibly get. I have always enjoyed watching our guests breathe in the life that surrounds them as they trade their leather shoes and winter boots for bare feet in the sand.
Bret and I are aware that people are increasingly making “green” a high priority in their home lives, choosing more environmentally friendly packaging and products, and even looking at alternate sources of power for their homes and cars, and in some cases focusing on more plant-based foods for their meals. There really seems to be a growth in the desire for more responsible use of our planet’s resources, and in the midst of all the chaos of the pandemic, it was amazing to observe things like the waters of Venice running clear, with dolphins and fish returning to places that had not been accessible to them for decades, and everywhere around the world, birds changing and enhancing their songs thanks to reduced noise pollution. We are also aware that these same environmental concerns are influencing peoples’ choices of how and where to vacation. It’s wonderful to spend some time relaxing by the sea, but it feels so much better when you know you are not leaving an environmental footprint behind.
This is why we are looking into ways we can become even more environmentally friendly, here at Coastal Breezes. We are looking into eliminating single use items, and incorporating more solar electricity into our operations. It has been a learning experience! Coming from Canada, a country with a vast amount of fresh water, to an island surrounded by salt water, has opened our eyes to the fact that natural resources should not be taken for granted. Two years ago, I had no idea what a cistern was. Now I think it is the best thing since sliced bread!
We are also very active in working to eliminate plastics and styrofoam from our roadways, and we drive any glass bottles that we find to a “recycling” center south of town, where they actually pulverize it for tile. We have a long way to go, of course, but it certainly feels like the right time to get started. A few years ago, it wasn’t feasible to consider solar panels, but now, you can buy everything from Amazon and get set up quickly and safely. These are changing times in so many ways. I think we have all gained new appreciation for the things we took for granted less than a year ago, like being able to dine at a restaurant, or even give someone a hug. I think this renewed awareness for the things we care for in life can also be applied to the life that surrounds us, so yes, we feel it’s the perfect time that as we pursue our new Gold standard, we will establish a green one alongside.