UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, has declared that the Belize Barrier Reef is no longer in danger. First declared a World Heritage Site in 1996, the reef was classified as being “in danger” due to decades of overfishing. But thanks to hard work by the government of Belize in conjunction with NGOs, the reef has made a significant and much-welcomed recovery.

The Belize Barrier Reef contains hundreds of islands and atolls and is home to an astonishingly diverse of marine habitat that includes endangered birds and reptile species. More than half of the reef is under formal protection as a conservation area. The density of fish, turtles, manatees, sharks, and dolphins in the reef make it a top spot for Belize travel as people come from around the world to enjoy activities like snorkeling and scuba diving.

In recent years, the government of Belize has made several important strides towards protecting the health of the reef. The government has imposed a complete ban on all offshore petroleum drilling despite the potential for a massive short-term income source, preferring instead to concentrate on the long-term health and tourism potential of the reef. In a similar move, the government has outlawed all single-use plastic bags and plastic food items like utensils and serving containers, which can get washed into the sea and pose significant health risks for marine wildlife.

“Along with the rest of the country, we celebrate this great news from UNESCO,” said a spokesperson for Black Orchid Resort. “We offer several different Belize vacations options, including tours of the reef, for our guests, and we heartily encourage them to visit this amazing natural wonder.”

Black Orchid Resort is a Belize jungle resort located in the idyllic village of Burrell Boom just a 30-minute drive from the international airport.