5 Ways You Can Support Responsible Travel in Belize

glovers reef communal lunch hall

Glovers Reef outpost

Belize currently trails countries like Costa Rica and New Zealand as top eco-destinations in the world. And since the country doesn’t receive as many tourists as the other countries in Central America, travelers can take advantage of an unspoiled paradise. A few of the qualities that Belize offers are the ancient Maya pyramids, ceremonial caves, diverse cultures, the countless cayes and atolls that dot the coast, the iconic Blue Hole, the Great Barrier Reef, and the various rivers and waterfalls that nourish its rainforests.

When you decide to visit Belize, here are some tips on how you can support responsible travel in Belize – it doesn’t matter if you’re into luxury travel or backpacking, everyone can help.

Try to learn a little of Belize’s local language

English is Belize’s official language but natives mostly speak kriol with each other. Try to learn the basic common words and don’t worry if you have a terrible accent, having an interest and getting involved is what matters most. Easy phrases such as “Weh di goan?” (What’s going on?) or “Tings haad out yah!” (We are going through tough times!) will be a fun way to start a conversation and connect with the locals. Making the natives smile is always a great way to break the ice and it can also be a good opportunity to build long lasting relationships.

Appreciate and respect cultural attire, religion and beliefs

Things such as clothing, traditions and lifestyle are very important to keep cultures intact. When visiting the Barton Creek Cave for example, you must pass a small conservative Mennonite community, women are asked not to wear over revealing bathing suits since the young teenage boys are not used to that. Another example would be that guests ought to be respectful whenever touring the ancient Maya pyramids and ceremonial caves, given that they are still sacred to the Maya.

Support local Belizean products and services

belizean products

Local is King

By supporting local businesses, an individual directly contributes to Belize’s growing economy. This is important because buying locally allows for a greater multiplier effect. Local hotels and tour operators economically provide for many families, which in return, spend their money throughout the community. Through eco-tourism for example, and eco resort in the Cayo District named The Lodge at Chaa Creek hires over 130 staff from predominantly two small villages. This resort has only 23 palm-thatched cottages in a 365-acre private nature reserve.

Embrace environmental stewardship

Cherishing nature is fundamental in ensuring the preservation of the natural environment. Whenever in Belize, visit as many natural attractions and protected areas as you can, the park fee is a contribution that goes straight to the conservation efforts of these places. Also, try not to disturb or harm the wildlife. Never participate in buying products of endangered wildlife, remember, there must be a demand for the supply side to exist. And killing animals such as frogs for example, can set ecosystems off balance, resulting in an infestation of flies and mosquitoes.

Endorse responsible tourism

Make it a preference to support Belizean businesses that endorse and carry out responsible tourism. Do a little research before visiting and find out if they truly practice what they preach: are they eco-friendly certified, employ local staff, have environmental awareness programs, fund conservation efforts, and are doing community outreach? Research conducted previous to your travels is essential to exclude the naysayers who join the green marketing scheme.

If you are planning to take a trip to Belize, remember to come with an open mind and heart to take in all the natural beauty and the friendly smiles of the people. We welcome you to this beautiful land we call home and sure hope you have an extraordinary time with us.

 

Comments

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About Lorenzo Gonzalez

Lorenzo Gonzalez is the founder of Belizeadventure.ca, a resource for travel information on Belize. He enjoys traveling, social media and Paranda music. Contact him at lorenzo [at] belizeadventure.ca. Learn more…

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14 Responses to 5 Ways You Can Support Responsible Travel in Belize

  1. Argoseaboats April 3, 2012 at 3:59 PM #

    One reason Belize is not a popular a destination is the cost to get here.  The flights are more expensive than other close by destinations and seems the only flights that are available have to go through the USA.  Some folks cannot go through the USA because they seem to only want perfect people in their country..  Kind of like a nasty guy from WWII.  I know several folks that come here but MUST fly to Cancun instead of Belize city because of the restrictions the US has.

    Next Belize needs to lower their fees for entry into their country.  When you buy an airline ticket, these fees are included.  When coming by car – there are fees involved.. So high that the people I know who were going to come to Belize turned around and went back to Mexico.   Coming in by boat is also a very expensive proposition.  

    If Belize wants to have a higher rating and gain more tourists, these issues have to be addressed.

    • Lorenzo Gonzalez April 3, 2012 at 7:52 PM #

      You are right, flights are ridiculous. This is because Belize doesn’t have a high rate of visitors thus the airlines can’t reduce prices.
      I’m sorry but I don’t think the $37.50 departure fee which goes into conservation and protecting parks is too much.. Especially compared to me paying $40 to park in downtown Toronto.
      Here’s some good news… Direct flights to Belize from Canada will commence on January 2013! 🙂

      • Argoseaboats April 3, 2012 at 8:26 PM #

        Funny the plane we were on last time we flew was full, so was the other one that landed right after us.  You can’t get any more busy than full airplanes.  🙂  i agree the fees they charge at the airport (for some) is not bad, but if you come in by boat, it’s $5 a day and that was just recently negotiated down from $10.  There ought to be a one year cruising permit just like every other country here in Central America sells.   Coming by car it is at leat a few hundred dollars just to drive across the border. 

        NOT conducive to more tourism.  We are trying to work with the tourism board to reduce these fees and gain more for the parks and conservation by having more travelers.

        BTW – I also belive that $40 to park anywhere is outrageous 🙂  Don’t get me wrong Lorenzo – I love Belize – that’s why we moved here.   It’s just that a country that relies on tourism as it’s main industry making it difficult for tourists to come here and spend their money is just counter productive. 

        January 2013 for direct flights from Canada – you mean Toronto, right? 
        Better than having to go through the excited states of hysteria.   🙂

        Keep the blog alive – it’s great for the country and will help get these things done.  Dealing with government bureaucracy – especially when it comes to changing policy – never comes easy or fast.  And that goes for every country in the world.  I know Belize is doing what they can and improving on a regular basis.  I just have to shake my head sometimes when I get sideswiped by another fee because I didn’t fly in.  🙂   

        BTW – I didn’t even have to pay the $37.50 departure fee when I left last time (just over a year ago)   Nor did my son when he left for vancouver just a few weeks ago.

        Keep up the good work..

      • elouise May 2, 2012 at 8:35 PM #

        What airline will offer the direct flights?

        • Lorenzo Gonzalez May 3, 2012 at 8:05 PM #

          That would be SunWing… If everything goes as planned.

  2. jouljet September 9, 2012 at 9:31 PM #

    Great tips, and pointers! Love the language tips – that would be awesome to have a couple of phrases to start chatting with the locals!

    • Lorenzo Gonzalez September 12, 2012 at 11:46 PM #

      Haha Indeed. There’s no easier way to break the ice.. 😉

  3. Anna November 12, 2014 at 11:01 AM #

    Hi!

    I’m really interested in finding out what the most authentic and traditional homestay is that one can do in remote villages in Belize. I found this website – http://www.southernbelize.com/homestays.html – but the contact information doesn’t seem to be working. Can you help me out? Please feel free to email me! I’d love to chat! Thanks!

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