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Belize Tourism Board reports increases in arrivals, but down year predicted

Posted: Sunday, April 14, 2019. 12:05 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Tourism continues to pilot the Belizean economy, and the good news through the first quarter of 2019 is that it is as strong as ever in terms of tourist arrivals.

According to the Belize Tourism Board, overnight arrivals to Belize increased by 6.6% in March 2019. The number of overnight visitors in March 2019 was just short of 58,000 persons. This is an all-time high for visitor arrivals in March as well as any other previous month.

The month of March 2019 marked the 28th consecutive month of year over year monthly increases for visitor arrivals to Belize. There was a cumulative increase of 6.3% in visitor arrivals through the first quarter of 2019, compared to the same period last year.

Meanwhile, more than 143,000 visitors arrived to Belize City and Harvest Caye by cruise, down slightly from February but up more than 8 percent from last year. Total cruise ship calls were 45 and the percentage increase is nearly 20 percent.

During the Budget Speech in March, Prime Minister Dean Barrow cited Central Bank projects of a slight drop in economic growth for 2019 to 2.8 percent, with the Bank predicting that “the increase in tourist arrivals will not be as great in 2019 as 2018’s record performance. The slightly reduced increase would, of course, dampen a little the performance of related industries, particularly accommodation, food and beverage, transportation and distributive trade services.”

Industry stakeholders we have spoken to say they are not feeling the effects of the growth in arrivals either by overnight or on cruise ships. But the Prime Minister said he backed Belize to outperform the “conservative” Central Bank forecast as it did last year.

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