Despite the Belize Tourism Board’s (BTB) announcement of a record half-million plus overnight visitors to Belize in 2019, Ambergris Caye’s tourism sector says it is struggling with an extended slow season. Over the last several weeks, island stakeholders have been reporting a decline in the tourism business, even resulting in the closure of some establishments. Many are speculating that this downturn is associated with the changes Ambergris Caye has been undergoing over the years. Massive developments are alleged to have overshadowed the once-charming island, coupled with the lack of proper infrastructure, and seemingly unplanned growth; some fear that Belize’s golden goose of tourism has lost her appeal.

Many island businesses are claiming that a lot fewer tourists are making Ambergris Caye their choice of destination. Coupled with what is believed to be an over-saturation of similar companies, those in and outside the San Pedro Town area are reporting fluctuations. “One week we get a good amount of customers, and then the other week things get slow again. I don’t know why, because this is supposed to be high season,” said one restaurant owner. This instability has made its mark, as a few establishments have closed due to slow sales. One establishment postponed a few planned upgrades because the business is not there as expected.

Large hotel chains
Many believe that the size of some developments compared to the geography of Ambergris Caye is another factor in the current downturn of activity. While these developments are deemed job opportunities on the island, this rapid growth also comes at a cost, as it is believed to be taking away from the rustic island vibe that many visitors seek on their holidays. As more large projects are built, there is a major need for adequate infrastructure. In recent years, during the high tourism season, water shortages have affected both residents and hoteliers. At times, even the supply of electricity has been compromised because of the high demand. Stakeholders are hopeful that after January, the season will stabilize and flow steadily through the remainder of peak tourism time.

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