by Lan Sluder,

Overnight tourist arrivals totaled 251,655 in 2007, up less than 2% from 2006, according to figures from the Belize Immigration Department. Cruise arrivals declined again, to 624,128, down about 5% from 2006. This continues a decline in cruise ship arrivals since the peak of more than 851,000 in 2004. This represents a decline of about 27% since the peak. The number of cruise ships calling on Belize City also declined, from 406 in 2004 to 278 in 2007.

Visitors from the U.S. continue to make up the majority of Belize overnight visitors, 152,569 of the 251,655 visitors in 2007, or about 61% of total tourist visitation. Europeans constitute about 14% of overnight visitors, a percentage that has actually declined slightly since 2003, when it was 15%. Canadian visitors represent about 6.6% of overnight tourists, up from 4.4% in 2003. Guatemalans make up about 5.6% of tourist visitors, while Belizeans living abroad represent about 3.6%.

Hotel occupancy and revenue figures for 2007 arenít yet available. Belize Tourism Board figures from 2006 show that there were 561 hotels in Belize, with 5,789 rooms and 9,651 beds. Annual hotel occupancy in 2006 was 42.9% nationwide (hotel occupancy was around 66% in the U.S. in 2007), and hotel revenues totaled US$56.4 million. Hotel revenue per room, a widely used industry statistic, was US$9,743. Actual Revenue Per Available Room (RevPar) per night, another widely used yardstick, was US$26.69. The average RevPar in Central and South America in 2007 was US$75.

The statistically average hotel in Belize has 10 rooms and grosses around US$100,000 annually, or revenue of about US$10,000 per room.

--Lan Sluder