Tourism stats show impressive gains

The report card on 2002 tourist
arrivals is in...and guess what, the
industry passed with flying
colours. This afternoon, I caught
up with Director of Tourism, Tracy
Taegar who broke down the
figures and provided an insider's
perspective on the developments.

Tracy Taegar, Director of Tourism
"The report has just come in for cruise ship figures for
2002,
we are up by five hundred percent, which is significant.
At
the airport for December, we recorded an eighteen point
seven percent growth in overnight arrivals. We haven't
gotten the border figures yet, we should get that
confirmed
today, but I believe by the end of the year we should
have a
two percent growth in overnight arrivals, which is what
we
projected for this year."

Janelle Chanona
"How are we coping as a country with these rapid
increases in tourism development?"

Tracy Taegar
"I think we're coping pretty well. Certainly we're
liasing with
private sector in terms of looking at moderating growth
in
cruise ship sector, we have to be very careful with that

obviously. Overnight arrivals, with the new air service
coming, I think will be significant for next year once
we don't
have any major crisis like the impending war with the
U.S.
But we feel very comfortable with the steady growth in
overnight arrivals and we certainly will try and
moderate the
growth in cruise ship arrivals so that it can be
sustainable in
the long term."

Janelle Chanona
"Are we still looking at five, six ships coming in or
will
we stick around the four and five."

Tracy Taegar
"I don't believe we'll go over the four ships a day.
There are
very random cases where we will have five ships, but
it's not
the recommendation of the board at this time to go
beyond
three to four ships a day."

Belize's tourism figures compare very well with other
Caribbean destinations, most of which have not yet
recovered from the impact of the September eleventh,
2001 terror attacks. Many have recorded negative
growth rates for two successive years.