Is Belize Officially On the Mainstream Tourism Radar?
PHOTO: Belize posted record overnight arrivals in 2015. (photo by Brian Major)
Once-sleepy Belize has witnessed at-times explosive visitor growth, changing this previously small-scale travel destination into one increasingly on the radar for a wider scope of travelers.
In 2015 Belize hosted 341,125 overnight visitors, a 6.2 percent increase over 2014 and the highest total in the country’s history according data from Belize Tourism Board (BTB) officials. Sixty-three percent of the visitors originated in the United States, Belize’s largest market.
BTB officials attribute the country’s strong 2015 arrivals growth to the addition of new service into Belize’s Philip Goldson International Airport (PGIA). Southwest Airlines and COPA Airlines launched new flights to Belize in October and December of 2015 respectively, boosting overnight visitor totals.
The new flights created a late-year arrivals surge, say BTB officials. After an “unsteady” first and second quarter, Belize posted seven consecutive months of arrival increases. The highest increases occurred during the last four months of 2015.
“September to December of 2015 showed record improvements, with overnight arrivals increasing every month in comparison to last year’s figures,” said BTB officials in a statement. “November’s 33 percent increase is the largest ever recorded for this month, which rarely goes above a 10 percent increase.”
Traditionally an exceptionally popular cruise destination, Belize experienced a slight decline in 2015. The country recorded 957,975 passengers last year, a one percent decrease from the 968,131 hosted in 2014.
READ MORE: Official: Belize Cruise Port Behind Schedule
Nevertheless, the figure still places Belize among the 10 most-visited Caribbean cruise destinations according to Caribbean Tourism Organization statistics.
In addition Belize’s cruise ship calls are expected to increase significantly upon completion of Harvest Caye, Norwegian Cruise Line’s $100 million dedicated cruise port located off Belize’s southern coast. The facility, located near the small fishing village of Placencia, is scheduled to open in November.
More by Brian Major
Get Travel Deals and Travel News
Recent Travel Opinions