Tourism Arrivals Continue to Increase despite the Slow Tourism Season

--Belize City, Monday, October 10, 2005 – Belize has had the privilege of welcoming an increasing number of tourists to its shores via the cruise ship port, land border points and the international airport as the statistics obtained from the Immigration Department illustrate.

Monthly tourism data retrieved from the Immigration Department indicate that the total tourism arrivals (exclusive of cruise passengers), from all points of entry for the period, January to August, 2005 increased by 3.0 %, accounting for 173,578 overnight stays.

The Phillip Goldson International Airport represents 75% of the total arrivals. The total number of arrivals documented at PGIA for July and August, 2005 was 27,150 visitors. During this same period last year the total arrivals was 26,703 visitors which represents a 1.6% increase this year.

The cruise sector welcomed 28 ships to port, accounting for a total of 81,658 passengers during the months of July and August, 2005. This represents a 39.4% decrease, compared to this same period for last year. This would be due to the fact that ships such as the Carnival’s, Miracle and Glory, being two of the largest ships that dock in Belize, cancelled most of their calls during this period because of Hurricanes Dennis and Emily which made landfall in the U.S. in early July and Hurricane Katrina in late August. However, Belize has seen a 1.2% increase in port calls through the months of January to August, 2005 compared to last year.

“Although we have seen a small increase in our numbers overall, we look forward to the peak of the tourism season as it draws near,” comments Director of Tourism, Tracy Taegar Panton. “The Belize Tourism Board maintains its efforts to support its tourism stakeholders in the international market and will continue to work with the private and public sectors to drive the overall growth of the industry.”

According to the Travel Industry Association (TIA), while travel prices are up in the first three months of 2005, this will not discourage Americans from taking leisure trips for the remainder of the year. TIA also states that despite rising prices in fuel, Americans will be traveling in record numbers. The North American Market accounts for approximately 65% of the total tourism arrivals in Belize