Before I left for a winter study abroad program in Belize, I read articles highlighting the negative effects tourism has on the environment. The impact of having more tourists can increase the amount of pollution. I wanted to see first hand how Belize was tackling the issue to preserve its natural resources and how local businesses helped with this initiative.
After this experience, I recognized there are a couple of small steps I can take to tackle climate change. One takeaway is limiting the use of single-use plastic. Seeing the amount of single-use plastic float and remain trapped along the shore put a lot into perspective. According to the documentary Plastic Ocean we are producing 380 million tons per year and 50% are single-use plastic. Also, 10 million of that is dumped in our oceans annually." Pollution is one of the factors that can contribute to coral bleaching. A few cayes have bases just for research. The researchers would test the coral for bleaching. At Tobacco caye, I noticed a sign indicating "reef wisdom" to protect the reef for locals and tourists. Some of the activities locals and tourists can do at the caye are snorkeling and Kayaking. Seeing that sign at the main entrance to the reef can prevent damages to the reef's ecosystem. The last take away I would like to mention is to travel locally. Some locals turned their homes into a resort as a source of income and rely on good recommendations. The resort had a certificate of excellence by the trip advisor. If many tourists are visiting Belize through cruises, they may not notice the same practices as someone who is staying with a locally. I have become a better tourist after my time at the cayes. It has taught me how each of our actions has an impact on our environment. I thought it would be helpful to show ways in which we can all be better tourists.