Belize Reports Improved Third-Quarter Visitor Arrivals
PHOTO: Belize recorded a 19.3 percent increase in overnight visitors in September (Photo by Brian Major).
Belize tourism stakeholders are hopeful the country’s strong September tourist arrivals augur for an improved year-end picture. Belize recorded 14,242 overnight visitors in September, a 19.3 percent increase over the same month in 2013 and part of a 6.9 percent increase in the country’s third quarter arrivals from July to September, Belize Tourism Board (BTB) officials reported recently.
In a statement, BTB officials attributed the arrivals surge to a 28.6 percent increase in U.S.-based visitors during that period. American travelers are utilizing improved air links to the country, including direct service from Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston, Chicago, Miami and Dallas, BTB officials said. U.S. residents remain the country’s largest visitor source, accounting for nearly 65 percent of arrivals, said BTB officials.
Belize endured an uncharacteristically flat tourist arrivals performance in the first half of 2015, with 183,210 overnight arrivals from January to June, a 1.5 percent decline from 2014 according to data from the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO). The BTB officials said the decline narrowed to 0.8 percent within the first seven months of 2015.
The country was recently among the Caribbean’s fastest-growing travel destinations, with 321,217 overnight arrivals in 2014, a 9.2 percent increase over 2013. The country’s strong 2014 performance improved on an equally positive year in 2013, when Belize’s 294,176 arrivals marked a 6.1 percent increase over 2012.
Belize’s cruise ship arrivals have also dropped significantly in 2015 after a period of substantial growth. BTB reports the country’s cruise ship arrivals decreased 0.3 percent in the first nine months of 2015 compared with 2014. Although BTB officials did not break out cruise passenger numbers, the country hosted 541,887 cruise passengers in the first six months of 2015 according to CTO data, a modest 2.8 percent increase over 2013.
This year’s cruise numbers represent a sharp fall from 2014, when Belize recorded an astounding 42.9 percent cruise passenger increase, with 968,131 shipboard visitors according to CTO data. The BTB statement notes that Belize’s third-quarter 2015 cruise arrivals, while lower compared with 2014, are up 44.4 percent compared with 2013. Belize recorded 677,350 cruise arrivals in 2013, a modest but solid 5.7 percent increase over 2012.
BTB officials said that Belize’s cruise arrivals “are expected to remain stable or increase in the last three months of the year.”
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