As Belize gets into the Lonely Planet Best in Travel list for 2022, we take a moment to celebrate and congratulate The Jewel.
It’s been a good year for Belize, as far as international travel awards go.
Time Magazine put Belize, alongside Costa Rica, on it’s World’s Greatest Places in 2021 list earlier this year. And now The Jewel finds itself on the Lonely Planet Best in Travel list for 2022.
Anyone who ever put on a backpack in the 90s and early 2000s will have had a Lonely Planet guide tucked away somewhere. I still have loads, from all over Latin America, Europe, and elsewhere. They’re dog-eaten and out of date, but still precious to me, and still holding pride of place on my bookshelves.
— Belize Tourism Board (@belizevacation) October 29, 2021
I’m not sure who still buys the books nowadays, in the age of internet and social media, but Lonely Planet is still influential in the travel world.
Their Facebook page has 2.4 million followers, Instagram 3 million (not counting individual Lonely Planet Insta accounts for different countries), and Twitter 6.2 million. For an organization started by two hippies in the 70s over-landing from Europe to Asia, they’re up there with the best of them.
They’re still influential, despite the inevitable decline in book sales they must have seen in recent years.
Every year, around this time, Lonely Planet publishes a new book called Best in Travel where, in their own words, they “rank the planet’s must-visit countries, cities, and regions.” They also rank what they see are best value places to visit.
They’ve being doing this for years, and every now and then a Central American country pops up in their lists.
Over the past ten years, they’ve featured Nicaragua (2015), Panama and Belize (2019), and Costa Rica (2020) in their top ten countries. Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast also made it into their best value locations in 2016.
Last year, during the peak of the pandemic, when few people traveled, they took a different tack and identified people and organizations dedicated to sustainability rather than naming places.
But this year, the traditional format is back, and Central America is back on boards! Belize is, for the second time in the last ten years, on the Lonely Planet list of top ten countries to visit in 2022.
It joins Egypt, Malawi, Nepal, Oman, Anguilla, Slovenia, Mauritius, Norway, and the Cook Islands as 2022’s best countries.
Lonely Planet recently published their Best In Travel 2022 book, featuring the top 10 countries to visit – I wrote the chapter for Belize! https://t.co/sYuZrqspGG
— Ali Wunderman (@AliWunderman) October 29, 2021
It’s no real surprise Belize is attracting so much attention as a travel destination at the moment.
Outside of a few hitches, Belize has done a good job of managing pandemic travel.
It’s not been perfect, and they’ve made mistakes. But compared to other countries in the region, it’s done well with its Gold Standard Program for tourism.
We admit we were rather skeptical of it at first, when Belize reopened its borders to tourism in October 2020. Now, though, we see it as the best system in Central America.
Belize has also made it easy for tourists to enter, simply requesting a negative Covid test (with 96 hours of arrival with a PCR test and within 48 hours for a rapid antigen test). Untested travelers can pay $50 for a test upon arrival, although this is always risky if they’re found positive and have to quarantine. This applies to both vaccinated and non-vaccinated tourists entering Belize.
— Belize Tourism Board (@belizevacation) September 1, 2021
Of course, it’s not Belize’s Covid regulations that put it on Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel list for 2022.
The real reason is that Belize is awesome! It offers jungles, Mayan ruins, adventure, beaches, Caribbean island vibes, and the second-longest coral reef in the world – ideal for fishing and diving. Lonely Planet’s Belize page describes the country as “packed with islands, adventure, and culture,” which about sums it up.
So congratulations to tiny Belize for making onto the list again, and we hope 2022 sees the complete turnaround it, and its people, deserve.
James Dyde is the editor of centralamerica.com. He lives in Escazu, Costa Rica.