Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Long lines continue at international airport on weekends; visitors advised to pre-purchase new travel insurance


Saturdays are the busiest days at the Philip Goldson International Airport (PGIA), with as many as four international flights landing simultaneously. This results in long lines as passengers wait to get cleared through COVID-19 screenings, customs, and immigration. As of February 15th, another factor has been added to the entrance process, delaying clearance when travelers must purchase the new mandatory travel and health insurance at the airport. On Saturday, February 19th, long lines were reported as visitors obtained the policy. As such, international visitors are encouraged to purchase the insurance online at www.belizetravelinsurance.com before traveling to Belize.

According to a couple of visitors who preferred not to be named, the delays caused by the need to purchase the insurance at the PGIA has soured their visit a bit. They admitted not being aware of the policy when booking their stay in Belize, and their hotels did not mention such travel assurance. They understand the need for insurance, but they hope the process at the international airport could be faster as some travelers had to wait for over two hours. Stakeholders/hoteliers are urged to pass on the information about the travel insurance to their guests to purchase it online and not at the airport.

The Belize Travel Health Insurance (BTHI) for tourists costs US$18 and provides coverage up to US$50,000 in medical and related expenses (COVID-19) for 21 days. The insurance also covers lodging expenses for quarantine up to US$2,000 or around US$300 per day. The other benefits include the coverage of emergency services such as air evacuation and emergency expenses related to a pre-existing condition. The BTHI will also cover trip cancellations and costs incurred by COVID-19 positive travelers.

On Saturday, February 19th, the John Greif III Municipal Airport in San Pedro Town was busy with flights bringing passengers passing 9PM. This is unusual, as the local airport does not operate this late on regular days. According to islanders passing by the terminals of Tropic Air and Maya Island Air, these flights were reportedly bringing passengers from the PGIA.

The new insurance mandate is expected to be temporary and will end once the COVID-19 pandemic is no longer considered a significant threat.

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