88% of BTIA poll respondents want a comprehensive plan before reopening PGIA

Wednesday, June 10th, 2020

The Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) recently held a poll among its members to gauge their views regarding the reopening of the Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport (PGIA). The survey also asked members to share their opinions on the medical safeguards that should be in place once PGIA is reopened to minimize the importation and spread of Covid-19 from arrivals. 88% of respondents believed that the Government of Belize must have a comprehensive reopening plan with adequate medical safeguards in place before reopening of the PGIA.

As to reopening PGIA, the feedback was varied, with no consensus for the July 1st reopening date previously contemplated by the Government of Belize. The request to allow international travelers back to the country on that date for a potential boost in tourism only received 50% of support from the survey participants.

The other half of the 50% supported a later reopening date. The suggested dates and percentages of support included August 1st (22%), September 1st (9%), October 1st (11%), November 1st (11%), and December 1st (2%). On the health side, 46% indicated that Belize’s medical preparedness is more important than opening PGIA immediately.

One of the country’s airlines, Tropic Air, has been pushing for the reopening of the PGIA as its closure has significantly affected the airline. They have been forced to lay off over half of their workforce, and they believe that the longer the international airport remains close, the more dire the consequences will be. Tropic Air recently wrote to BTIA members asking for their support in the effort to reopen the PGIA on the initially scheduled date, July 1st. BTIA’s Executive Director John Burgos said on Monday, June 8th, that it is inevitable that at some point, the international borders will have to open. However, the question remains if proper protocols can be established soon, so tourism personnel can be prepared to deal with tourists in a safe manner.

Despite all this pressure for a July 1st opening of the international airport, 88% of respondents from BTIA’s poll were of the opinion that the government needs to set in place a comprehensive reopening plan with adequate medical infrastructure, and safeguards in place before the international airport is ready for business.

Members also emphasized that protocols and safeguards should be instituted and form part of the reopening of the PGIA. Below are other results from BTIA’s poll:

  • 60% of respondents wanted a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Test conducted by a certified
  • facility within 48-72 hours before boarding.
  • 57% stated that they also wanted a certified rapid test (protein sensitive) in Belize upon arrival.
  • 52% of respondents stated that they also wanted to see a contact tracing app in place.

BTIA noted that these medical safeguards are not currently available.

With such results, BTIA said via a press release that due to the conflicted opinions among its members to reopen the international airport, it would refrain from lobbying for a specific date. BTIA trusts that the Government of Belize and the Covid-19 National Oversight Committee will evaluate the situation and act accordingly in the best interest of Belize.


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