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Monday, January 17, 2022

Belize reopens border with Mexico for tourists and tax free shopping

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Belize-Mexico border between Corozal and Chetumal. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Belize has reopened its land borders to tourists arriving from Mexico and Guatemala. 

The Central American country has set up COVID-19 screening stations at its borders in an effort to prevent the further spread of the pandemic in the country. 

“We are taking every measure possible to reopen our tourism economy in a responsible way,” said tourism minister Anthony Mahler. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Belize particularly hard. Nearly half of its economy is reliant on tourism.

Belizeans hope that the reopening of the borders will help to reactivate the struggling economy. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

The tiny country of 390,000 inhabitants has reported only 324 deaths, but the government acknowledges that the real number is likely much higher. 

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The country has also struggled to vaccinate its population against the virus, as it has mostly relied on international donations. Under 3% of Belize’s population has been inoculated against COVID-19. 

Belize has also reopened its tax free shopping zone along the Corozal-Chetumal border.

Belize is well known to international travellers for its beautiful beaches, archaeological sites, and creole culture which is a mix  African, Caribbean, European, Indigenous and Asian traditions.

Popular tourist destinations include Ambergris Caye, the ruins of Altún Ha and the giant marine sinkhole known as Great Blue Hole.

Maya archaeological site of Altún Ha near Belize City. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

The country obtained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1981 and is the only nation in Central America where English is spoken as the official language, even though outsiders often find its dialect is sometimes hard to understand. 

Despite its close ties with the British Commonwealth, Belize maintains very close ties with Mexico. Many Belizeans are fluent in both English and Spanish and hold double citizenship — especially along the border. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
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