By Benjamin Flowers Staff Reporter
The government of Canada’s high caution advisory to Canadians traveling to Belize is still in effect; however the Belize Tourism Board maintains that isolated incidents of crime should not mar the image of the country.
The Reporter spoke this week with Alyssa Carnegie, marketing director of the Belize Tourism Board, who explained that while the advisory carries some negative comments, tourists are not being told to avoid Belize.
“The advisory is more or less a caution to travelers, not discouraging them from coming to Belize, not saying that its an unsafe place to be, but to exercise some degree of caution and we feel that’s practical advice for anyone going anywhere.”
Carnegie also explained the advisory is not expected to have a largely negative impact on the tourist arrivals for this year, however because visitors general plan their trips three to six months in advance the effects will not be determined until later this year.
The BTB maintains that Belize is still a safe destination for visitors to enjoy a unique tourism experience, and hopes that all the good things about Belize will not be lost in the unfortunate incidents that have befallen a small amount of visitors in the past few months.
While communicating with the Canadian government to have the caution lifted is not within the mandate or jurisdiction of the BTB, all stake holders are doing their best to communicate the message that belize is still a safe destination to enjoy a unique tourism experience.
On April 17, the Canadian government posted an advisory on its official website, saying: “There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Belize. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to a high rate of violent crime throughout the country.”
The advisory also advises canadians to bee cautious when visiting Mayan archaeological sites in that region, and do so only with a reputable tour guide, a message which the BTB itself has consistently maintained.
The release also made mention of poorly maintained roads, however there has been to date no reported Canadian residents dying in any road traffic accidents.
Several Canadian citizens have been the victim of violent crimes within the past few months including a couple in Placencia earlier this month, and Brian Towsend who was found sea don January 2nd.
The advisory also comes at a time where Belizean workers were complaining about the job program me where Belizean workers were hired to work at Mcdonald’s in canada.
Last January, the United States issued a travel advisory against Belize, for fear of retaliation for the brutal four way murder on George Street.despite the advisory at a high point in the tourism season, the sector still had an outstanding year, recording seven percent more arrivals than in 2012.