What ‘Friendly Locals’ Doesn’t Tell You
There is no shortage of travel advisory resources that will list “friendly locals” as a mere bullet point in their summaries or descriptions of exotic destinations. Whether you get your information from other websites like this one, a consumer review website such as TripAdvisor, or even some hotel websites, they will often simply list this feature as if it were any other amenity, such as a laundry room. But what does it mean when this term comes up?
For those of you who want to leave the United States, or other home country, this point is not so minor when you really start to think about it. The people who live and work in your new community will ultimately shape your every day by participating in the local economy and government, and by interacting as neighbors do. They are cab drivers and grocery store clerks, bankers and business owners, police and pilots.
Belize is fast becoming one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Caribbean, and relative to its size, in the world. The rapid and steady growth of the tourism industry here has made it the number one industry in the country, as well as the fastest growing. The people of Belize have come to depend on being able to provide quality, professional tourism services.
Overall, any experience you have in Belize will drive home this impression. Tour guides and other industry service providers are exceedingly welcoming. Many of them own and operate their businesses right in their home villages or towns. For many, tourism can provide a quality of life that was unavailable to many native Belizeans in previous years.
Additionally, as is the case with the many tours of Mayan ruins, the Caribbean Sea and Belize’s jungle, many service industry professionals get to exhibit a specialized knowledge and skillset unique to their home environment and inherited way of life. By taking advantage of the demand for this precious kind of commodity, they are preserving their heritage for future generations. With so many upsides to this business for native Belizeans, it is no wonder their pleasantness and friendliness can truly not be overstated.
Traits like these are hardly limited to professionals providing tourist services for hire though. It is a point of national pride in Belize that as a nation of diverse peoples, travelers and immigrants from all regions of the world, the country is welcoming and friendly. In what can at times seem like a far flung echo of a bygone era in the United States, people far and wide across the country of Belize are small-town friendly. They are cooperative, tolerant, and peaceful people. Strangers greet each other and offer a helping hand when opportunities arise. Children run and play in the streets and yards and along the beach. Even people who do not necessarily depend directly on tourism revenue are used to meeting new faces just about wherever you go in Belize.
Ambergris Caye, the top tourist destination countrywide, is perhaps the friendliest place in Belize for tourists of all kinds. But really, the entire country is incredibly hospitable to not only travelers, but expats, retirees, snowbirds, and the like.
As Chuck Bolotin describes in his article, Most Expats Have Positive Experience with Locals, this trend is found throughout the Central American Region. Just as well though, it is true that anywhere in the world will be home to individuals who nonetheless resent wealthy expats who join their humble communities. The answer to anyone wondering if their wealth will make them a target of hostility and resentment is a simple one, and in fact one we all learned as children; it is the Golden Rule. Treat others as you wish to be treated. If you are a respectful person, you will be treated with respect in most communities around the world. The same is true in Belize and Central America.