Belize officials say tourism has taken a nose dive after a Virginia cardiologist and his tour guide were gunned down on a fly-fishing expedition.
Despite their reassurances that the country is safe, officials acknowledged that tourism has plummeted in the wake of the murders of Dr. Gary Swank and his tour guide, Mario Graniel, last week in San Pedro Town lagoon, according to The Reporter Belize.
John Burgos, who is the executive director of the Belize Tourism Industry Association, said that there has been a flood of trip cancellations, which has impacted at least seven hotels throughout the country.
He added that properties had seen tourists nix trips scheduled for as far ahead as January 2020.
“Unfortunately, the news media has been presenting the current circumstances in a manner that can harm the tourism industry and the many people whose livelihoods depend on [tourism],” a source told the news outlet. “We dont have tourists dying weekly nor constantly targeted in Belize. The number of murders cannot be sensationalized.”
Burgos said that local officials need to take security measures to help get the tourism industry back on track.
During a public meeting, San Pedro police agreed to hire 12 more officers, install video cameras for 24-hour surveillance and draft new legislation to keep the identity of witnesses anonymous, Breaking Belize News reported.