Belize has been the only country within the Caribbean to experience
consistent increases with respect to overall tourist arrivals since
1998. The year 2003 has proven similarly successful for arrivals
particularly through the two principal ports of entry, being the
International Airport and Fort Street Tourism Village.

As the Philip Goldson International Airport (PGIA) arrivals represent
approximately 70% of total overnight arrivals in Belize, these figures
take on much significance. There were 13 record-breaking months of
tourist arrivals via PGIA starting from November 2002 through December
2003, with the exception of September, which did record an increase of
11.2 percent. Arrivals as for the four quarters of 2003 recorded an
increase of 16.1%, 21.7%, 19.1%, and 11.9% respectively over the
corresponding quarters of 2002. Total arrivals at the PGIA from
January/December 2003 stand at a record 17.2% increase over last year.

Arrivals from all border points, inclusive of PGIA, Santa Elena Border
Station, Belize Western Border Station, Dangriga Town Seaport, Punta
Gorda Town Seaport, for the period January/November 2003 recorded an
overall increase of 11.1% over the same period in 2002.

On a similar note, these increases in overnight tourism arrivals are
additionally reflected in hotel revenues generated. Hotel taxes
collected as at the end of December 2003 indicate that room revenues as
for overnight arrivals total BZ$78.9 million, which represents
exceptional growth of 28.9% over 2002.

Cruise statistics as for the period January/December 2003 have reached
another landmark. The month of December recorded an unprecedented high
of 93,173 representing an increase of 66.2% over the figure as for last
year’s corresponding month. The year’s total illustrated a solid upsurge
of just about 80% over that of 2002, as Belize welcomed a total of
575,196 visitors to her shores at year’s end January/December 2003.
Belize has in fact recorded the highest growth in cruise ship arrivals
for 2003 in the region, according to the latest statistics from the
Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO).

Tourism Minister Mark Espat notes, “The interest in Belize as a vacation
destination continues to rise, and Belize is quickly becoming the
preferred destination. Marketing and Public Relations efforts continue
aggressively by both the private and public sectors and add greater
visibility to our country. These increases also represent greater
economic opportunities for our local entrepreneurs who we encourage to
become stakeholders and owners in this growing industry, and this is
truly the underlying objective of tourism’s agenda.”