5 cruise ships docked in Belize this morning – bringing with
them about 12,000 passengers. It was more good news for the cruise sector in
which arrivals grew by 18% last year. Registrar of Hotels at the Belize Tourism
Board Lloyd Enriquez says today was as good as it gets.
Lloyd Enriquez, Registrar of Hotels
“Today is about as big as it would get for the year. We try to manage
the numbers to keep it around 5 or 6 ships in port. And when you see a six ship
day, it would really mean there is one or two smaller vessel among those that
are counted in the six. So today we have five ships but not all of them are
very big ships. There is at least one there that is a relatively smaller ship,
a thousand passengers or less.
We’ve grown a lot as a destination. We have a lot of private destinations
opening up. If I can name a few just Old Belize and Bacab immediately come to
mind. There are many others like that, there is Banister Island. So there are
a lot of private sector people who have come in and invested to create a destination
for these people to distribute them and as well the top sellers still remain
the Mayan ruins and now a site managed by NICH, No Chohen, which is really the
Jaguar Paw/Caves Branch Cave which is the number one tour destination for Belize.
So among all the private and public sector destinations we have more than enough
facilities and destinations to distribute these guests all over the country.
The figures for the year ended January to December 2009 saw the third highest
year in terms of cruise passenger arrivals in the country at a little over 705,000.
So if you go back into history in terms of those numbers, you will see that
that is the third highest and this year is shaping up to be more or less the
same. Of course you know that cruise tourism has a very marked and very cyclical
nature in terms of a high season and a low season. So right now we are in the
high season which basically runs from mid-November to mid-April.
Cruise tourism is healthy in Belize but we should always look at cruise
tourism in Belize in a regional context because Belize is part of an itinerary
really, so it is not only Belize that is on the itinerary; it is the entire
western Caribbean. These ships ideally or typically would come from Mexico,
Cozumel or Costa Maya, and then to Belize and then some of them would go to
Honduras and then back up. But the entire western Caribbean remains a very novel
destination for cruise ships, there is a lot of potential.”
While the Tourism Board put today’s arrivals at 12,000, other
industry sources put it at 16,000.