BELIZE CITY, Mon. Oct. 19, 2015–To date, Belize has received over a million visitors via land, air and sea, and while the first 9 months of the year showed a very negligible overall decline of just 678 visitors, September, the country’s most festive month marked by national celebrations, saw the highest growth in tourism activity, with overnight arrivals during that month increasing by a phenomenal 19.3% over last September with an additional 2,299 visitors coming to Belize, mostly by plane.
Statistics released today by the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) said that for the 3rd quarter (July-September) of 2015, overnight arrivals increased significantly by 6.9%, when compared to the same period in 2014. Arrivals peaked in March, when almost 40,000 overnight visitors came, 30,000 of them by air.
While overnight tourist arrivals have been down for most of the first half of the year, the past four months have seen consecutive increases, year-on-year when compared to 2014.
According to the BTB, an economic downturn in the Canada market had meant a reduction in arrivals from that country; however, more visitors from the US, as well as from South America and Asia, have driven the sector’s rebound.
The Philip Goldson International Airport remains the leading port of entry for Belize, and air arrivals accounted for 74.7% of the total overnight arrivals, the BTB pointed out. The official data show that airport arrivals were down for every month from January to May, but an upswing started in June, with September showing the biggest spike, year-on-year for 2015.
“September 2015 saw an increase of approximately 20% through the international airport,” the BTB said, noting, “We can conclude that visitors from the United States accounted for the bulk of this increase in airport arrivals for September, as arrivals for Americans increased by 28.55%.”
It added that, “…there has been a major increase in South American arrivals, with a 45.1% increase for the first 9 months of 2015. This was followed by the Asian market, which had a 25.1% increase.”
“We anticipate continued growth in the South American and Asian markets with new marketing strategies that have been implemented in these areas, such as Trade Shows, Road Shows, service via Copa Airlines and other marketing partnerships,” the BTB said.
Cruise arrivals fall marginally
Cruise tourism arrivals continue to fall in 2015, with every month except January and March seeing a decline in the number of cruise tourists when compared to last year’s figures. The substantial increases of 16.6% in January and 15.8% in March have helped to buffer the downturn in cruise tourism arrivals during the remaining months, resulting in just a small dip of 0.3% for the first 9 months of 2015.
Last year, Belize received nearly a million cruise tourists. The BTB has previously said that “2014 was an outlier year in regards to summer months in the cruise industry, as deployments from other regions were redirected to Belize, increasing the booking calls.”
The BTB says that when 2015 is compared to 2013, the increase in arrivals to date is significant, amounting to 44.42%.
With the high season approaching, cruise tourist arrivals are due to increase substantially within the coming months, and particularly in December.
The cruise sector has earned over BZ$100 million from almost 700,000 cruise tourists who visited between this January and September.