Sunday, April 14, 2024

Several Ambergris Caye hotels recognized with ‘Tourism Gold Standard’ certification


Belize is set to welcome international travellers on October 1, 2020, when the Philip Goldson International Airport (PGIA) re-opens. In order to enhance the tourism industry’s health and safety standard, the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) launched the ‘Tourism Gold Standard’ certification for hotels across the country. At this initial opening to international tourism, only those hotels with said certification will be allowed to operate, and as of press time, several hotels in San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye have received their certification.

The island hotels with Gold Standard Certification include Victoria House Resort and Spa, Portofino Beach Resort, Ramon’s Village Resort, Playa de Sala, Grand Caribe Property Management Ltd, Cayo Espanto Island Resort, El Pescador Lodge and Villas, Drift Inn, Escape Away Belize, Plantacion de Sueños, Sandbar Beachfront Hostel, Xanadu Island Resort and Casa Nova Cabañas Ltd.

According to the BTB, in this initial phase of re-opening for international visitation, hotels approved under this program will operate within a ‘tourism safe corridor’. These hotels will be able to provide full service to guests to contain them on the property. This will minimize any opportunity for guest interaction within the local community. Some of these amenities include: providing the guest transportation to the hotel to and from the airport/dock, access to a restaurant on-site, count with a swimming pool or beachfront and be able to provide isolated tours limited to guests of the property only.

These properties have committed to ensure a safe environment for tourists to the island during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Gold Standard Certification program seeks to have properties adapt new behaviours and procedures to ensure both employees and travellers are confident in the cleanliness and safety of Belize’s tourism product.

In addition to these new measures, hotels will be required to implement social distancing and the use of face masks. Online check-in/out, contactless payment systems, and automated ordering/booking systems. There should also be hand sanitizing stations across the property, along with an enhanced method of room cleaning and increased sanitization of public spaces and high touch surfaces. There will also be daily health checks for guests and employees, and in the case that someone tests positive for the virus, they will be quarantined in a designated room on the property.

The PGIA was previously scheduled to re-open on August 15, 2020, but a spike in COVID-19 cases caused the delay. Back then, persons traveling to Belize had PCR tests as the only option to prove they were COVID-19 negative. By October 1st, it is expected that a rapid antigen test (BinaxNOW) by Abbott Labs will be available. This test, unlike the PCR, reportedly produces results in as little as 15 minutes, whereas a PCR test takes around 24 hours to yield results.

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