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More than 142 thousand visited Belize in January; Tourism Minister envisions “sustainable” industry

Posted: Thursday, March 30, 2023. 10:31 am CST.

Photo Credits: Belize Tourism Board/Forbes Magazine

By Aaron Humes: Belize welcomed 142,808 total arrivals by cruise ship and overnight visitors in January according to data from the Belize Tourism Board (BTB), continuing the revival of a critical industry for Belize’s economic growth.

There were 42,412 overnight visitors, including 40,868 tourists in the strictest definition, and smaller amounts of business visitors and Belizeans living abroad among others. A majority, 73 percent, touched down at the Philip Goldson International Airport (PGIA), and most were on their way to the main destinations of Hopkins, Placencia, San Pedro, and Caye Caulker.

In December 2022, 29 percent of all rooms were occupied, being the height of the high season, with an average room rate of $455. Accommodations made an average of $162 rounded up in revenue per available room, which includes services and tours.

There were 100,396 cruise ship visitors, split 72 to 28 between Fort Street Tourism Village in Belize City and Harvest Caye in Stann Creek District.

At Fort Street, more than four in every five passengers disembarked during January, but only 16 percent went on tours in Belize during their short time here.

Speaking recently to Forbes Magazine, Tourism Minister Anthony Mahler acknowledged that “Our economy is small, so we cannot outspend larger destinations. Thankfully, our recovery has been positive and steady.” He adds that Belize is well-placed to maintain a sustainable industry with low impact and high value, and says Belizeans have their part to play: “It is important for our tourism that Belizeans not only see the financial benefits coming from the industry but that they understand that the industry’s success is tied to their own appreciation and love of our country.”

As for increasing arrivals, the United States remains a big target with 65 percent of arrivals in January coming from America, but as Mahler noted to Forbes, “…many Americans are still unaware that flying to Belize is just 2-3 hours away from most major U.S. cities.”

And whether you’re here for the sun, sea, sand, archaeology, culture, or even food, the Tourism Minister wants all to keep coming: “We continue to invest in marketing that will attract visitors from more places around the world. Even as we explore new niche markets in the U.S., Mexico, and South America, we are working very hard to secure our first direct flight out of a major European city…Locally, we have plans to improve the road access to many of our archeological sites and to expand the capacity of our local, private aviation companies.”

“Mother Nature’s Best Kept Secret?” Not anymore – but only if you come and find out.


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