The heat is heating

The heat is heating

The Easter weekend is officially over but it might be best to keep applying that sunscreen. Many of us returned to work on Tuesday, probably with tan lines and tag lines from our travels. The family activities, fun with friends, and excitement may have varied depending on our weekend destination, but if there was a constant, it was the sun and the heat. If you thought that it felt a bit warmer than usual, you were not wrong- it was! The skies were clear and blue, the breeze was cool and continuous, but the humidity made the heat a little crispy. It was never so easy to spend hours in the water while the frosty drinks became ‘slurpier’, ice cream ‘meltier’, and everything just that much ‘funner’. Even those Belizeans who normally swear off sun hats, sunshades, and sunscreen may have made exceptions this weekend. The heat is on and it is not just in Belize. It’s across the Caribbean and the planet.

According to the Barbados-based Caribbean Climate Outlook Forum, CariCOF, “2024 is shaping up to be a year of climate extremes”. CariCOF, explains that an El Niño in the Pacific is warming up the ocean surface above average temperatures. In its newsletter, southern Belize was included among countries experiencing long-term drought. But the Heat Season is only one part of it. Apparently, it is predicted that the Wet Season will be similarly excessive. Perhaps this should not be so surprising since last month, scientists at the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) warned of a fourth global mass coral bleaching event in the Southern Hemisphere “driven by the warmest waters and possibly the worst in the planet’s history”. For over nine consecutive months now the planet has been breaking its own heat record. Why is this a topic for a tourism article? For one, Caribbean countries, including Belize, have more tourism-dependent economies so climate change cannot be ignored.  It is not as simple as complaining about the weather. Travellers often feel cheated out of vacation time whenever it rains but they similarly cannot enjoy themselves if temperatures are too hot. “Sun & fun” will always go together, but maybe now we should include one more thing- sun, fun, and “climate resilience”. The sector’s vulnerability to climate change is a bit more serious. Crises caused by extreme weather are reshaping tourist destinations and consumer habits. Loss of landscape, culture, and biodiversity could also see some destinations take an economic hit.

The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) is the region’s institution for information and adaptation strategies. It recently assisted Belize in its readiness proposals, water sector adaptation plan, and a climate resilience project for Ambergris Caye. Our climate resilience strategy is multi-faceted. On March 27th, Belize was the first Caribbean country to ratify the Ocean Biodiversity Agreement. The Law of the Sea is now law in Belize. The industry is not without its challenges and not without solutions.

But, back to where we started. As we all recover from the Easter weekend, remember that we have the lobster fest season and other eagerly anticipated events to look forward to. Our bodies and our skin are vulnerable to weather and wherever we travel to meet the sun. Tourism is not going away but neither is this heat, so keep calm and sunscreen on. This heat is heating.

Chat again later.

Jasmine Anderson

For The Belize Tourism Board