As we showed you in our last segment, the sugar industry is in a state of flux and uncertainty, but - numbers-wise at least - the tourism industry is coming off one of its best years ever.
A release from the Belize Tourism Board says that for the first time, in 2014 more than 300,000 overnight visitors came to Belize. The precise figure is 321,220 - which is a 9.2% increase over 2013.
Every month of the year except November - showed an increase in arrivals, topping out in April, when there was a 23% increase.
March saw the most visitors - 30,754 - passing through the Phillip Goldson International Airport - that's up 20% from the previous year.
And while those are sharp increases - it's not even close to cruise tourism which registered a huge 43% increase in 2014, when compared to 2013. June and July - which are normally sow months were up over 100% - and December had a record 141 thousand cruise visitors arriving in Belize. And that's because two ships cancelled! Director of Cruise Initiatives for the BTB Valdemar Andrade discussed the reasons for the upturn:...
Valdemar Andrade, Director Cruise & Regional Initiative, BTB
"For cruise 2014 was very exceptional. Normally we are bordering around 650,000 passengers on an average here and there. We have had a few hires, but this year we finished at 968.131 persons in port. There was an increase in every month in the year with the smallest percentage increase being 6.2% occurring in January and the largest percentage increase of 120.2% occurring in June. The total net increase was 42.9% which translates to an increase of 290,781 passengers. So, you can see that there was great work put in. We had actually 13 cancelled calls. We had 3 in January, 2 in March, 1 in October, 5 in November - that was during the Ebola, where we were wrong vehemently with our external partners to ensure that we kept those ships in shore and 2 in December again, due to inclement weather. Some of it is out of our control. Some of it we try to manage as a destination and so yes and no. I think it prove that we are robust, we are willing to adapt. I thin k our destination is growing, it's still very young and products that are onboard now are very strong products that we are putting like cave tubing, the ruins - lots of products in Belize that you cannot get anywhere else."
Karen Pike, Acting Director of Marketing and Industry Relations
"We had a remarkable year is that we hit over 300,000 overnight tourist visitors in the month of December for 2014. We actually had in excess of 321,000 tourist visitors' overnight visitors. That gave us a 9.2% increase over 2013 figures. December alone was a 4.9% increase over 2013."
The forecast for 2015 is for 350 thousand overnight visitors - about 10% more than 2014. We'll wait and see.