Belize is reporting “a resurgence of tourism inflows” for the year 2011, with overnight tourist arrivals increasing 3.4%, but cruise tourist arrivals dropping 4.8% over 2010 figures. Still cruise tourism saw a record month last November, with 92,416 passengers visiting Belize, according to official data.
The highlight is the overall outturn for the 4th quarter of 2011. The Belize Tourism Board (BTB) has issued a statement declaring that, “The overnight arrival figure for the 4th quarter of 2011 was the highest for that time period on record. There were 57,964 visitors in the 4th quarter, representing a 6.5% increase on the 4th quarter of 2010, and signaling a resurgence of tourism inflows in Belize.”
Tourism Data Analyst, Michael Arana, told Amandala that the rebound in overnight arrivals and Philip Goldson International Airport arrivals had a lot to do with the American market.
“We saw some very large increases in January and April. Those are usually the high season months,” said Arana.
He said that in 2011 the figures were returning to the level they were at prior to the global economic upheaval. Apart from the economic rebound, he said that the improvement in arrival figures was also due to certain strategies put in place to market Belize. Greater private sector participation also played a positive role, said Arana.
According to the BTB, December showed record arrivals of 26,945—a 7.6% increase over December 2010.
“2011 was a year of record breakers with record highs for January, July and December,” the statement added. “The total overnight arrival figure for 2011 of 250,263 is the second highest on record after the peak in 2007, which was just before the global economic crisis period. It is only the second time in Belize’s history that the overnight tourism arrival figure has exceeded 250,000 visitors.”
Airport arrivals increased 9% for the 4th quarter, according to the report. The BTB also declared this a record, at 42,034 visitors.
The data indicate that January, July, November and December were record months, with total arrivals at 181,996 for 2011—a 5.6% increase in arrivals compared to 2010.
Cruise tourism arrivals fell
Whereas the report was positive for the overnight arrivals, the BTB reported that, “there was a slight decline in December 2011 of 11.5%, and the total 2011 cruise arrival figure was 4.8% less than the figure of 2010.”
A total of 727,544 cruise tourists reportedly came to Belize in 2011.
The BTB said, “…if the cruise industry was not hampered by the cruise tender issue in the early part of the year, the 2011 cruise arrival figures may have exceeded the 2010 figures.”
The issue in question was between Carnival cruise lines and local tour operators who disputed over new rules of the game for shuttling passengers via tenders.
Arana said “that was the issue” which caused the decline, pointing to the January 2011 drop of 32% and the February decline of 35% in cruise tourist arrivals due to Carnival cruise cancellations – the biggest declines for the year, he pointed out.
Meanwhile, July showed a decline of 12% and September — 16%.
Despite the downturn, 2011 still ended with the second highest cruise tourist arrival on record, said the BTB. The record year was 2010.
As to what kind of year is projected for 2012, Arana told Amandala, “we are expecting a further increase,” although, he added that certain factors can always come to play that they do not foresee.
The Royal Visit of Prince Harry, scheduled for March 2 and 3, is expected to boost tourism in 2012.