As if you needed another reason to love Belize, in late December, Belize’s Prime Minister, Dean Barrow, gave environmentalists a reason to do the Macarena on rooftops, when he announced that oil drilling in the country’s oceans is now banned.
This is great news, not only for those who love to save the planet, but it’s a big collective sigh for Belize’s barrier reef. It’s the second largest reef in the world and it protects the country against ocean surge, is home to 1400 species and feeds the greater ocean ecosystem at large.
Motivated to protect the tourism industry, there are many in Belize who’ve been working hard to end the drilling. It’s pretty much a no brainer that nobody wants to visit the country, go to the beach and get tar on their feet from an oil spill. Not to mention the significant harm a spill could do. It would not only harm Belize, but wreak havoc in waters all across Central America.
In 2012 Belizeans made an attempt to petition for a referendum on a previous year’s decision on drilling. This failed. The Belize government rejected 8,000 citizen signatures on a petition of 20,000, which terminated the vote. This action resulted in a public backlash that has fueled the success of the current ban being implemented today.
The people of Belize want to put the environment first. This is good news for those of us who love to visit and hope it will be here for generations to come.
It’s also good news for the one in four Belizeans that work in the tourism industry. They don’t want the natural wonders their industry promotes, threatened. It seems this is one instance when tourism is actually having a positive effect on the environment.
More good reasons to go to Belize.
Brett Renee Stone is a managing partner and director of communications for Palm Reef Resort