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Jan 13, 2015

Tourism Numbers Continue Upward Trend in 2014

Last week on ABC, Belize was named as one of the top destinations to visit in 2015.  Well, today the Belize Tourism Board announced that 2014 was an excellent year for the industry. Confirming that the number of visitors had surpassed the projected target of a million visitors, the B.T.B. says that overnight arrivals were up. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

2014 was a banner year for tourism in Belize with a number of businesses earning recognition in the annual Trip Advisor’s Travelers’ Choice Awards.  While we may have fallen just shy of the million mark in the cruise arrivals sector, there were also significant increases in overnight visitors to Belize.  Throughout the year, a total of three hundred thousand tourists spent a night or two in the country visiting destinations such as Ambergris Caye and San Ignacio Town.  That figure, which the Belize Tourism Board is proud to announce, has been rather difficult in pinning down.

 

Karen Pike

Karen Pike, Acting Director, Marketing & Industry Relations, B.T.B.

“For 2014, we actually beat the three hundred thousand mark for overnight visitors to Belize.  We had in excess of three hundred and twenty-one thousand visitors which puts us at nine point three percent higher than 2013.  December alone brought in four point nine percent more overnight tourism visitors than 2013. And so we have heard from hoteliers that they have seen the increase in occupancy based on these arrival figures.”

 

While those numbers are a record high, there was also a massive campaign in the cruise tourism sector to have as many visitors disembark in Belize City during their voyage across the Caribbean.

 

Valdemar Andrade

Valdemar Andrade, Director of Cruise & Regional Operations, B.T.B.

“As before with overnight arrivals, cruise had an excellent year as well and again it’s a testimony to the great amount of work put in by the Belize Tourism Board and the Ministry of Tourism and the team here that really markets and pushes for the Belize brand.  The total number of cruise passenger arrivals to Belize in 2014 was nine hundred and sixty-eight thousand one hundred and thirty-one packs which is very significant for us because before then, we were averaging around six hundred and fifty thousand passengers a year. The lowest increase during 2014 was six point two percent in January with the highest increase being a hundred and twenty point two percent occurring in June. The overall increase was forty-two point nine percent, which is a great testament to work that we have been putting in overall with our industry partners. And a total increase of two hundred and ninety thousand seven hundred and eighty-one passenger over 2013. In December alone, we recorded a record high of a hundred and forty-one thousand passengers, two hundred and eighty-six thousand. So that’s significant.”

 

Director of Cruise and Regional Operations Valdemar Andrade says that despite falling short by a nominal figure, all efforts are being made to achieve and surpass the million tourist mark in 2015.

 

Valdemar Andrade

“Let’s talk a little about cancellations. We had thirteen canceled ships in 2014 which is significant compared to the previous years. We don’t usually have that many cancellations. We had three in January, two in March, one in COtober, five in October when we were negotiating the Ebola prerequisites and two in December. So thirteen ships if you average them at three thousand passengers per ships, that’s a significant amount and we would have been way pass a million passengers. There is a similar push all the time to our long term goal in the sustainable tourism master plan up to the period of 2030 is to have one point million passengers on a whole in Belize in terms of cruise. So the million passenger mark is always very significant. However, from year to year, depending on deployment of the different cruise lines, we look at an increase or decrease. Right now, the way the statistics stands, in 2015, we are looking at a slight decrease in numbers. We are looking at three hundred and twenty-eight calls as opposed to three hundred and forty-five that we had this year.”

 

With the Harvest Caye terminal set to become operational by October of this year, it is expected that the number of cruise arrivals should see an increase.

 

Valdemar Andrade

“Harvest Caye should come on board in October and they will have in October, November, December…they should have around twenty calls. And in 2016, they should increase to about a hundred calls and take that up to three hundred and five thousand five hundred and sixty packs. So you see with the combination of both, then we will start jumping the million passenger mark with both our northern and southern ports combined.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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