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Accommodation Singapore

Belize Officials Say Insurance Requirement May Deter Visitors

20 Jan 2022 By travelpulse

Belize Officials Say Insurance Requirement May Deter Visitors

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Belize's new travel insurance requirement for visitors has not escaped criticism from some tourism stakeholders. Local legislators are questioning the program's impact on travel to Belize as the Caribbean nation seeks to restore visitor arrivals devastated by the pandemic.

In a statement, officials from Belize's United Democratic Party (UDP) asked minister of tourism and diaspora affairs Anthony Mahler and Belize Tourism Board (BTB) officials to "clarify and provide more information regarding the recently imposed mandatory Belize Travel Health Insurance for visitors."

Although they acknowledge other Caribbean nations have established travel insurance requirements following the pandemic outbreak, UDP called the $18 per-person charge for policies provided by the Insurance Corporation of Belize and underwritten by Munich Reid "tantamount to yet another tax on visitors coming to Belize."

"The mandatory insurance may make Belize less competitive than other destinations in the region, UDP officials said, "which the country simply cannot afford in light of visitor arrival data for the first 11 months of 2021 [at] 60 percent under arrival figures for 2019."

"We have consulted with the private sector associations and there were mixed responses," Evan Tillett, Belize's director of tourism, said in a statement to TravelPulse.

"However, we felt that the [travel insurance] proposed was in the best interest of the stakeholders, international guests and Belize," said Tillett. "We will continue to assess the situation and continue to dialog with the industry when forging ahead."

Effective February 15, all Belize visitors will be required to apply for the travel insurance which provides for payment of up to $50,000 in medical expenses related to treatment of COVID-19 for travelers who test positive during their stay.

Authorized under Belize's public health regulations, the policies also provide up to $2,000 for quarantine expenses and emergency assistance services including air evacuation, plus emergency expenses related to pre-existing conditions.

The policies also cover trip cancellations and expenses incurred by COVID-19 positive travelers requiring extended stays. Travelers may purchase Belize Travel Health Insurance online prior to their travel or upon arrival at the Philip Goldson International Airport.

Belize recorded 1.67 million international visitor arrivals in 2019, according to United World Tourism Organization and BTB data. The country's combined land-based and cruise ship visitors plummeted to 487,222 as during pandemic-stricken 2020. Belize's land and cruise visitors each fell by more than 70 percent that year, according to Caribbean Tourism Organization data.

In lieu of the mandatory travel insurance, UDP officials additionally proposed incoming travelers provide proof of existing travel insurance upon arrival, "opt in" for Belize's insurance policies or sign a liability waiver. "Unless absolutely necessary, we should avoid implementing mandatory policies that will serve to deter travel to Belize," they added.

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