20th July 2020: The Latin American Travel Association (LATA) has hosted the first instalment in a new series which sees Latin American destinations give an update on the current status of the coronavirus pandemic and unveil their plans for tourism recovery. In this first edition representatives from Belize, Colombia and Nicaragua revealed their developments.
Director of Marketing & Industry Relations at Belize Tourism Board, Misty Michael, provided an update on the Central American nation’s five-phase recovery plan which will see phase three begin on 15th August 2020. Michael stated that as part of phase three Philip Goldson International Airport (BZE) would resume operations and a “Tourism Safe Corridor” would be established which will see limited reopening of approved hotels offering full-service amenities. These hotels are to be approved according to Belize’s “Gold Standard Recognition Programme” in line with the country’s health and safety protocols. Michael commented: “the Gold Standard Recognition Programme seeks to enhance tourism health and safety standards by adapting new behaviours and procedures to protect employees and travellers.” She also noted that Belize’s management of the virus has spurred new interest in the destination for longer stays and tourism investment.
Procolombia’s UK Executive Director, Jose Puyana, stated: “Colombia is focused on the recovery of the tourism industry with tangible results such as being the first country with a Bio-security stamp endorsed by UNWTO, reducing sales tax for airplane tickets from 19% to 5%, and working hand in hand with the tourism industry in Colombia to make sure they adapt to the new trends that the pandemic has created and continue to offer excellent services.” It is apparent that Colombia’s recovery strategy puts an emphasis on helping the sector be prepared for the ‘new normal’ brought about by the pandemic and building a trust that ultimately encourages the return of its international tourists.
Puyana also touched on the importance of adapting to a new digital industry and highlighted Procolombia’s emphasis on digital promotion which has seen them pick up the Webby People’s Voice Award as the best tourism website in the world; a welcome recognition during a challenging period for the industry.
Ana Carolina Garcia, Director of Promotion and Market Development for Nicaragua’s Tourism Institute (INTUR) highlighted the importance of training and skill development. “From January to June we had organised 152 digital workshops, training a total amount of 3,440 local businessowners, 1,382 men and 2,058 women, owners of restaurants, hotels and tourist guides.”
Additionally, Nicaragua has introduced a host of new measures to keep its visitors safe including biosecurity protocols, disinfection of public spaces, mobile clinics throughout the country, budget increases for the health sector and advanced training for more health workers.
Garcia added: “Nicaragua has a lot to offer in terms of outdoor activities, nature, adventure, rural community tourism and sports activities for social-distance-mindful travellers. We are prepared to receive tourists with safety protocols based on the scientific advice and are proud to count on some of the highest security and safety levels in the region.”
Colin Stewart, Chairman of LATA, concludes: “We’re proud to have launched the first in this new series which will provide our member destinations with a platform to share the hard work that is going on behind the scenes to ensure a safe and sturdy return for international tourism. As Latin American destinations begin to reopen to tourism it is important for us at LATA to communicate the initiatives our members are implementing to reinstall confidence both amongst the travel industry and the end consumer. We look forward to more of these sessions as the region looks towards recovery.”
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LATA is the representative body of the Latin American travel industry.
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