Tourism By The Numbers
Tourism figures continue to climb. That's according to BTB's quarterly report released earlier today. It shows that Belize had an increase in overnight visitors this year in months of January, February and March when compared to 2015 by 24%, 18.5% and 10% respectively. March specifically was an extraordinary month for tourism as it saw over 43 thousand overnight visitors- a first for Belize, since the most a single month has ever recorded is 40 thousand visitors.
Cruise arrivals for the first quarter also saw a positive uptick with the exception of January which saw a 19.5% downturn. BTB said this was as a result of 13 fewer cruise calls in comparison to 2015. But the following months of February and March saw an increases of 3.7% and 4.1% respectively. Overall there was a 4.5% decrease in cruise arrivals however BTV remains hopeful that the numbers for cruise arrivals will continue to grow throughout the remainder of the year- and even hope to reach their 1 million passenger mark for 2016.
So what is causing all this positive growth? Noriko Gamero, Public Relations Manager for BTB says that it is all about spreading the word.
Noriko Gamero, Public Relations Manager - BTB
"We've seen 10 months consecutively of increase in our numbers and we know that we've been changing our strategies a lot this year in our marketing so we are definitely looking more at the analytics. We are looking at the numbers. We are trying to be more strategic. So example, we'll have a partnership with American Airlines where they brought their Road Warrior Winners to Belize which gave us like a 9 month consecutive exposure and all their American Way magazines, it had inflight videos of the winners coming to Belize. So the video was on all the back of the plane seats for an entire month of March. We've also been very strategic in bringing international press coverage, that would write articles on Belize, social influencers that take pictures and do a lot more videos and then in addition to that, our stakeholders have been playing a very adamant role in getting the exposure of Belize. So for example we know that before BTB would be putting their marketing dollars into getting Belize awareness, now our stakeholders are also doing that. So the message of Belize is getting larger and so we highly thank them for that, because now we have more awareness on Belize."
So while the numbers are looking good for the first quarter, BTB might be bracing for a negative outlook in April. That's because of all the bad press they got in the first month of 2016.
Noriko Gamero, Public Relations Manager - BTB
"Usually we see a trail of 3 months whenever we have any type of crisis, because the bookings of passengers usually 3 months after they see an advertisement. So I think we won't really see the impacts until probably next month for the crisis that we had in January. However, we were strategic in making sure that we got the positive message out on Belize, making sure that we were addressing the necessary issues and hopefully that all the good on Belize outweighs that negativity that we had back then."
B.T.B. Says Quarterly Tourist Arrivals are Up in 2016
The B.T.B. is forecasting that it will be reaching the million mark number of cruise tourism visitors to the jewel this year. It has already contracted the Brighter Group firm of the UK to promote Belize in Europe and specifically in the UK. In the first quarter of this year, January to March, overnight visitors increased significantly. But while that is the good news, cruise tourism numbers are not as impressive. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.
Duane Moody, Reporting
Belize is trending as a tourism destination in the world; that is the message that the Belize Tourism Board, the marketing arm of the tourism ministry, is asserting given the statistics for tourist arrivals for the first quarter of 2016. The B.T.B. says that the numbers are impressive because for January and February, there was an increase in overnight visitors by twenty-four and eighteen point four percent respectively over 2015.
Noriko Gamero, Marketing and PR Manager, B.T.B.
“This first quarter in the tourism industry showed remarkable numbers; just to continue proving that Belize is trending internationally and the numbers are showing it. We are very happy to show that January had an increase of twenty-four percent and February’s increase of eighteen point four percent. Historically, the first two months for the year has never exceeded seventy-five thousand passengers collectively, but this year it did. We’ve seen ten months consecutively of increase in our numbers. We know that we have been changing our strategies a lot this year in our marketing. So we are definitely looking more at the analytics; we are looking at the numbers. We are trying to be more strategic. So for example we’ll have partnerships with American Airlines where they brought their road warriors winners to Belize which gave us like a nine-month consecutive exposure on all the American Way magazines. It had in flight videos of the winners coming to Belize so the videos were on all the back of the plane seats for the entire month of March. We have also been strategic in bringing international press coverage that would write articles on Belize; the social influencers that take pictures and do a lot more videos and then in addition to that, our stakeholders have been playing a very adamant role in getting the exposure of Belize.”
The overall number of tourists visiting the Jewel increased for the first three months of this year; the month of March registering the lowest percentage increase with only ten percent over 2015. But there is still reason to celebrate, says Marketing and PR Manager, Noriko Gamero because it’s a historic number of arrivals.
“March didn’t fail us. March increased by ten percent which is usually the peak of our tourism season and this increased by a historic forty-three thousand sixty-three passengers, which never in history has any month every exceeded forty thousand passengers. So we are very excited with those numbers. As a result of that, we’ve seen increase in international TV shows; we’ve seen celebrities like Andrew Zimmerman was here; Paul Logan was here. We have been named in Trip Advisor Ambergris Caye and San Ignacio was named topped destinations. So we’ve seen Belize being named internationally and we can see the results of it.”
All was not good in terms of cruise arrivals; there was an initial decrease of nineteen point five percent in January due to fewer calls to port, when compared to 2015. But Gamero says that the projection is that the country will meet the one million cruise visitor threshold by the end of 2016.
“That was expected, but February and March saw the increase with three point seven and four point one respectively over 2015. We know that in the cruise industry we are projecting to hit the one million by the end of the year as we are very hopeful for this industry as well.”