After two years of closure, the Government of Belize has agreed to open the land border with Mexico, specifically the one that communicates with the southern part of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo.
Belize closed the land border with Mexico on March 2020, to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The action has dealt a severe blow to Chetumal’s economy, where about a third of its economy relies on the spending made by Belizean citizens. Chetumal is part of the Costa Maya tourist brand, located in the south of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, an area less visited, compared to the north, which includes Cancun or the Riviera Maya.
Starting this week, Belize reopened its border with Chetumal, respecting sanitary protocols such as a mandatory COVID-19 test with a cost of up to 50 dollars per person. Luis Gilberto Montero Maldonado, the honorary consul of Belize in Quintana Roo, said that the opening of the land border would be from Monday to Sunday from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm Belize local time and from 7:00 am to 11:00 pm, Mexico local time.
He indicated that all Belizeans who enter Mexican territory and stay for more than one night must take a COVID-19 test, whose cost is 50 dollars, but those who cross into Mexico only for one day will not be required to take a test. Juan Jaime Mingüer, president of the business commerce organization, said that, although with such restrictions, Belizean visitors’ interest in traveling to Mexico has been evident. Especially to have access to the multiple services and products to which they were accustomed before the start of the pandemic.
“Without a doubt, the re-entry of Belizean visitors is crucial for the state’s economy, so we have a high responsibility to act according to the circumstances. Historically, we have maintained a relationship with Belize, which must be strengthened at this crucial time. They need us, as much as we need them,” he concluded.
The businessman said that long lines of cars were waiting to enter Mexican territory this past Monday morning. “We estimate that at the end of the day, more than 250 Belizeans entered and had an economic impact of 60 dollars per person, which provides a financial respite for local commerce, hotels, and restaurants,” he said. Finally, he anticipated that the flow of Belizean visitors is expected to increase significantly by this weekend.
According to data provided by the Secretary of Economic Development of the government of Quintana Roo, the commercial exchange on this border represented 60 million dollars per year before the pandemic. In addition, since 2012, Belize has relaxed bilateral trade with Mexico, establishing a list of 34 tariff items that can be introduced to the country exempt from import duties. This incentive has significantly benefited producers in the Yucatan Peninsula and southeastern Mexico, like Tabasco and Chiapas.
The Belizean market reaches Chetumal, mainly to the purchase of household supplies. The most sought-after products include canned food, toilet paper, soft drinks, to name a few. Therefore, supermarkets, grocery stores, or wholesalers benefit directly or indirectly. Before the pandemic, the arrival of Belizeans in the state capital represented between 25 and 30 percent of the local economy.
Belize managed to position itself on the number 4 spot, among “The 10 best countries” in the “Best In Travel 2022”, a list prepared by Lonely Planet. Of the 195 world nations, this paradise on the isthmus managed to turn the eyes of the world towards it. Although it is seldom compared to Mexico and Costa Rica in terms of tourism, Belize has its own personality. It is home to the second-largest barrier reef on Earth; they house relics of its Mayan past, exotic beaches, and lush flora and fauna, and travelers can experience all kinds of unique adventures.
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