Climate Risk Assessment and Disaster Management for Tourism Destinations in Belize

Belize is frequently hit by severe disasters. Hurricanes and tropical storms destroy infrastructure and landscape and threaten coastal ecosystems. Moreover, climate change models predict that it will endure more frequent heatwaves and droughts, decreased rainfall with increased intensities and rising sea levels. Yet, Belize’s highly vulnerable tourism sector is not resilient to the impacts of such hazards. The existing capacities are inadequate to effectively minimize losses, limit the degradation of ecosystems and recover quickly from disasters – all of which make tourism activities unsustainable over the long term. At the same time, the Belizean economy is strongly dependent on its tourism sector.

The Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation (MTCA) thus launched the second phase of its Sustainable Tourism Project, funded by the Inter-American Development Bank and building on the previous phase. The general objective was to support and ensure the tourism sector’s contribution to the socio-economic development of selected tourism destinations. The MTCA selected four target regions – Corozal District, Toledo District, Caye Caulker Village and the Mountain Pine Ridge/Chiquibul/Caracol complex – for their high tourism potential, higher poverty rates, and opportunities to maintain natural capital and improve local resilience. In these regions, the MTCA planned to strengthen local and national capacities, mainstream climate change adaptation and disaster risk management into policymaking, budgeting, decision-making and planning processes, as well as promote ecosystem-based adaptation approaches. adelphi and GITEC assisted the MTCA with the implementation of three work packages: (1) the conduct of a risk assessment, (2) the elaboration of crisis management plans and the revision of tourism destination plans, and (3) the development of national guidelines for improving disaster and climate resilience in the tourism sector.

adelphi led the climate risk assessment of the selected destinations, based on which a Disaster Risk Management and Adaptation Plan was developed. adelphi also had the overall responsibility for the development of the National Guidelines.