Belize Cruise Ship Arrivals Surge, Land-Based Arrivals Remain Flat
Photo: First-quarter cruise-ship visits to Belize surged as land-based arrivals were flat. (Photo by Brian Major).
One year after posting increases of more than eight percent in both overnight, land-based and cruise-ship visitor arrivals, land travel to Belize was virtually flat in the first three months of 2015. Cruise ship visitors for the quarter, however, continue to surge ahead compared with 2014 totals.
Belize recorded 101,747 overnight tourist arrivals between January and March, a slight 1.1 percent increase over 2014, or a total of 424 additional visitors, according to Belize Tourism Board (BTB) statistics issued last week. BTB officials also said overnight visitors arrival numbers were slightly down in January and February.
BTB officials cited “weather conditions resulting in [the] cancellation of flights from Canada,” for the decreased overnight arrivals. This winter’s “severe snow storms” in U.S. destinations including Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New York resulted in flight cancellations in those cities, all considered “originating destinations for visitors to Belize,” said officials. Last year Belize recorded 321,217 land-based, overnight visitors, a 9.2 percent increase over 2013.
While land-based visitors remain flat, Belize’s cruise ship arrivals continue to grow strongly. The country hosted 355,952 2015 cruise-ship visitors between January and March, an increase of 9.5 percent over the 322,218 visitors hosted during the same period in 2014.
Cruise arrivals were particularly strong in January and March, with recorded respective increases of 16.6 percent and 15.8 percent. The destination’s cruise arrivals fell sharply in February 2015 to growth of a comparatively small 2.7 percent, which BTB officials attributed to the cancellation of two ship calls due to adverse weather, which precluded the vessels from anchoring offshore.
Despite lacking a dedicated cruise ship pier and terminal, Belize is on the verge of becoming the eighth Caribbean Tourism Organization destination to exceed one million annual cruise ship visitors. Belize hosted 986,131 cruise ship visitors in 2014, and explosive 42.9 percent increase over the 677,350 cruise ship travelers the country recorded in 2013. BTB officials “project 2015 will see increase in arrival numbers over 2014.”
Belize’s cruise ship arrivals are expected to continue to expand substantially over the coming years with the debut of Norwegian Cruise Line’s $50 million Harvest Caye development, which will reportedly include a floating ship pier, an island village, a lagoon for water sports and a beach area.
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