Tourism Statistics Indicate Overall increase in Tourism Arrivals

--Belize City, Monday, July 10th, 2006 - As the statistics obtained from the Immigration Department validates, Belize has seen an increase in the number of visits for the period January – May, 2006.

Arrivals from all border points, inclusive of PGIA, Santa Elena Border Station, Belize Western Border Station, Dangriga Town Seaport, Punta Gorda Seaport, for the period, January thru May, 2006 increased by 4.3% accounting for 119,645 overnight stays.

The Phillip Goldson International Airport represents 73.8% of the total arrivals. The total number of tourists documented at PGIA for January thru May was 90,918 visitors. During this same period last year the total arrivals was 86,864 visitors which represents a 4.7% increase this year.

The cruise sector welcomed 159 ships to port, accounting for a total of 341,731 passengers on board from January thru May, 2006. This represents a 21.5% decrease in cruise passengers, compared to this same period for last year. One of the major reasons for the decline was the removal of the Carnival Elation from its Western – Caribbean itinerary. This vessel, which was a year-round, weekly vessel, has since been taken out of commission as it served to house Katrina victims in the Louisiana area. For the months of June thru November, 2006, cruise ship calls will continue to show decreased numbers in comparison to the same period last year.

The Travel Industry Association (TIA’s) updated 2006 forecast predicts another record year for consumer spending on travel. According to TIA’s Summer Forecast, Americans will take 325.6 million leisure-person trips during June, July, August 2006. Americans expect to stay away an average of 6 nights on their longest pleasure trip. Travelers plan to spend an average of $1,033 on their longest pleasure trip this summer, essentially unchanged from the summer of 2005 ($1,019). This proves beneficial to Belize as the North American Market accounts for approximately 62% of the total tourism arrivals in Belize throughout the year.