Visitor numbers

Posted By: Peter Jones

Visitor numbers - 12/29/08 05:26 PM

A lot of conflicting "information" being spread, often perhaps with wishful thinking, but my gut feeling is that they are well down. A major dive centre had no boats out yesterday afternoon, and at least one smaller one has had no tourist customers for days. Compare this with three or more years ago at this time, when I always had two or three boats out morning and afternoon, full, for the entire Christmas/New Year season.

The manager of a well-regarded medium sized hotel said yesterday visitor numbers were "frightening".
Posted By: JZB

Re: Visitor numbers - 12/29/08 05:58 PM

According to the BTB, Belize has had 204,219 visitors from January through October 2008. A decrease of 2.2%.
Posted By: JZB

Re: Visitor numbers - 12/29/08 06:01 PM

Curacao's visitors has INCREASED 30%. I wonder what they are doing right?
Posted By: Diane Campbell

Re: Visitor numbers - 12/29/08 06:56 PM

Interesting number JZB --- questions on the stats - just musings really, could be relevant when assessing our own situation and what these numbers might really mean - 30% is a huge increase.

Is the 30% increase due to overnight visitors or a change in ports of call for larger cuise ships - some of which may have been diverted due to hurricane issues in other ares in 08 ?

ABC's are Dutch - would the demographics of their tourism arrivals be affected by that.

Has there been any recent/significant change in infrastructure on Curacau - airport, port, etc?

Could also be that after Nathalie Holloway, those who would have gone to Aruba picked Curacau as the safer sister island?

Just wondering - any time I see a number that is so drastic I tend to think it's an anomaly rather than a solid trend .......

Posted By: Diane Campbell

Re: Visitor numbers - 12/29/08 07:15 PM

Number of arrivals tells us about needs at boarders, airports etc, and is relevant in that way.

Would it not also be important to understand the number of nights stayed and number of rooms used ?

If we have an increase in the length of a stay, we could have fewer arrivals but an increase in occupancy.

If we have more all-inclusive and cheap-cruise arrivals we have better arrival numbers but less money spent per head.

Revenue from hotel tax would be interesting to note as well.

My sense - (for what it's worth) is that a 2.2% drop in arrivals seems quite modest, and in this kind of crisis is really quite good. If that were the only story, we'd be in goodshape - BUT the next question is are these "arivals" spending money --- or are the budgets just enough to get here but after that the spending stops.

And the thing on all our minds is not what happened last year, but what will happen in 09.
This is not a normal time for anybody. Unfortunately.

Posted By: Peter Jones

Re: Visitor numbers - 12/29/08 09:54 PM

Yes Diane - are there any statistics on bed nights?
Posted By: pamkillen

Re: Visitor numbers - 12/29/08 11:00 PM

I would add to Diane's thoughts that it is possible also that many of the travels plans were made and tickets bought before the crash. We are hearing people say that they have the money to get here and use those tickets but have no money for extras. They are cutting back on purchases and trips. I also believe that as long as it is $800 plus to get here and $250 to get to Cancun, people will choose other places.
Posted By: Portofino

Re: Visitor numbers - 12/30/08 12:22 AM

This article explains the tourism increase on Curacau from the Dutch and Venezuelans:
Originally Posted by MercuryNews
Amid Caribbean slump, Curacao tourism booms
By BEN FOX Associated Press Writer
Posted: 12/23/2008 03:56:49 PM PST

WILLEMSTAD, Curacao—In a grim season for Caribbean tourism, an island just north of Venezuela stands out: Hotel rooms are scarce and discounts unavailable.

That's largely because Curacao is crowded with Venezuelans, many fleeing their country's spiraling inflation and currency controls for a Dutch Caribbean island best known for its diving opportunities and historic city center, a U.N. World Heritage site.

While other destinations are slashing prices and laying off resort workers, officials in Curacao have been trying to find private apartments for surplus visitors.

"We're doing very, very well," Billy Jonckheer, vice president of the Curacao Hospitality and Tourism Association, said Tuesday. "Right now, you won't find a room on the island."

Curacao officials project 2008 visitor growth of 30 percent to about 390,000 people. The latest statistics from the Caribbean Tourism Organization show that rate would be the highest in the region at a time when the global economic crisis and airline flight cutbacks are eroding the key industry.

Cuba is also one of the region's bright spots, with the country predicting a record 2.34 million visitors, largely because the global financial woes have been softer on Canada, its top source of visitors.

But others are struggling.

Puerto Rico, for example, expects a decline of at least 3 percent in the number of its visitors, said Clarisa Jimenez, president of the island's Hotel and Tourism

Association. The Dominican Republic and the Bahamas have also recently reported decreases in tourists.

The Netherlands is the largest source of tourists for Curacao. But Venezuela is second and rising fast, expected to double from last year and reach 100,000, Jonckheer said. The U.S. is third.

Curacao is a magnet for Venezuelans because it's close—only about 40 miles—and its shops are filled with duty-free merchandise that is much more expensive at home. Flights are plentiful to Caracas and other cities, but they are almost all packed these days.

Inflation in Caracas is running at more than 32 percent and currency controls imposed by President Hugo Chavez in 2003, aimed at stemming capital flight, require Venezuelans to obtain dollars through a government agency for purposes including travel abroad.

Venezuelans are allowed up to $5,000 a year on their credit cards and $600 cash for travel. Travelers get the money at the official rate of 2.15 strong bolivars to the dollar. But on the black market in Venezuela, U.S. dollars have been selling for more than twice that. (Curacao uses guilders, the Dutch currency, but U.S. dollars are widely circulated and acceptable everywhere.)

Jonckheer and others say some Venezuelans buy merchandise in Curacao, where dollars are used widely, to sell or exchange back home on the black market. But he doubts it is the primary attraction for the visitors.

"Of course, they come for cash. I'm not going to deny it. But they come here to do a lot of shopping and other stuff. If it does happen, it's not the norm," he said.

Tourist Ruben Sermin denied cash is the attraction.

"This place is the best. It has lots of culture, lots of beaches," said Sermin, a 28-year-old accountant, as he and his girlfriend waited to board a half-hour flight back to Caracas after a four-day trip. "It's a small island, but there is a lot here."

The two countries have long had close links. Venezuelan tourism spiked to Curacao in the 1980s, then fell when the South American country's currency collapsed. And Venezuela's state-owned oil company runs Curacao's Isla oil refinery, the largest employer in Curacao.

The U.S. also has ties to the island of 140,000. For nearly 10 years, the U.S. has stationed military planes at the Willemstad airport for multinational counter-drug missions in the Caribbean. American officials say the operation contributes about $25 million to the local economy.

Nelson Pierre, a member of the 21-member governing council, thinks the U.S. military should no longer be allowed to use the airport to ensure good relations with Chavez, but he says only one other council member shares his opinion and the lease is likely to be extended when it expires in 2011.

Curacao is expected to double the number of hotel rooms to 8,000 over the next two years and local officials say they are poised for more growth. But they also know they must market to other countries.

"Venezuela is a market that can fall at any time," Jonckheer said.

But tourism on Cuba is also still rising with Canada, Italy, Spain and Britain topping the list:
Originally Posted by Latin American Herald Tribune
Cuba Says Tourism Up 2% in 2008
$2 billion from 2.3 million visitors, with Canada, Italy, Spain and Britain topping the list.

HAVANA -- Cuban Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero announced that this sector grew by 2 percent in 2008 and will end the year with 2.3 million visitors, a number that breaks the record set in 2005.

Marrero said Friday that the sector managed to reverse the decrease that occurred in 2007, while giving an account of his management at a plenary session of Parliament attended by President Raul Castro.

Marrero, who gave no revenue figures for tourism, said the sector grew despite the devastation wrought by three hurricanes between August and November at resorts in the eastern cities of Holguin and Camagüey and the western city of Pinar del Rio.

He said that plans for 2009 estimate that the island will welcome 2.5 million foreign visitors and increase both revenues and profits for the sector.

In 2007 Cuba received more than 2 million tourists, generating revenues close to $2 billion.

Canada remained the chief source of tourists to the island with more than 800,000 people, accounting for 24.5 percent of the growth, followed by Italy, Spain and Britain.

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