The Belize Tourism Board is reporting that tourism arrivals are on an upward trend. For the month of September, the B.T.B. says that tourist arrivals at the Philip Goldson International Airport were up by a whopping thirty point two percent from last year. And according to B.T.B., for the first time in the last ten years September arrivals have exceeded the seven thousand mark. Duane Moody has the latest stats from the B.T.B.
Duane Moody, Reporting
Recent reports from the Belize Tourism Board are showing that tourist numbers continue to rise. At the Philip Goldson International Airport, the September figures for tourist arrivals have been up thirty percent with over seven thousand visitors. This brings the overall tourist arrivals countrywide up to September 2012 to over nine percent compared to 2011’s statistics.
Laura Esquivel-Frampton, Acting Director of Tourism
“The September figures this September over last year September for bonafide tourist arrivals, we were up thirty point two percent. When we added that to all the other borders—the northern region, the western borders, the southern borders—we have an overall figure for September, we are up nineteen point one percent over last year. So again adding all of these numbers up from January to September we are up nine point one percent in overnight tourist arrivals.”
Acting Director of Tourism, Laura Esquivel-Frampton, says that Belize is referred to as the next best tourist destination. The spin offs are jobs and foreign exchange.
“It is great news for tourism actually we are going out to many trade shows right now and we are hearing that Belize is the next big thing; everybody wants to be a part of Belize. We have a number of travel writers, we have a number of press; we have a number of travel agents who are screaming to come to Belize because they want to sell Belize. So it is fantastic news. And of course there is always a trickledown effect. This translates into heads in beds in hotels; it translates into need for housekeepers, the front desk attendants, bartenders, wait staff, tour guides, tour operators are running. So it is a good trickledown for everyone concerned.”
Cruise arrivals, however, are down eight point five percent annually. With high season quickly approaching, Esquivel-Frampton says that the projections are promising in the 2013 fiscal year.
“The projections from the cruise lines themselves in terms of the port calls to Belize were up going into this season so we should see an increase next year over this year’s arrivals. We have to also be concerned about these things and we are like I said working with the Ministry of National Security. We are working on what we are calling entertainment zones; particularly for Belize City, but also working with our tour partners in ensuring our tourists are safe. We do know that we get rave reviews always with people who are doing tours. We have a high rate of people coming off the ship—the disembarkment rate—it is between eighty-five and ninety percent. And of those, at least seventy percent of those are going out on tours.”
And despite the increase in crime, even against visitors to the jewel, Esquivel Frampton says that B.T.B. and the Ministry are working closely with the Ministry of National Security to develop a plan that addresses the impact of crime on the image of Belize.
“Crime will always be a concern for tourism. Crime does not work in a vacuum; it could affect us when people are researching Belize and they will see the stories of crime. I will tell you that the Ministry of Tourism and the B.T.B. has been in close coordination with the Ministry of National Security in the last few weeks and we are developing a plan to try and address particularly of course our main concern which is crime against tourists, but understanding that the overall crime does impact the entire image of Belize. So we are currently working very closely along with the Ministry of National Security. As you know the B.T.B. lends a large amount of support to the tourism police unit. And so we are looking to try and make those relationships more efficient.”