Tourism at a standstill?

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 17, No. 36            September 13, 2007

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Awww, the slow season is here and people are feeling the pain. September and October are usually “dead” months on Ambergris Caye but the threats of two back-to-back Category 5 Hurricanes, Dean and Felix, have certainly not helped any. Dean and Felix did not directly hit Belize and as such Ambergris Caye received hardly any damages from these sons of Mother Nature.

    In the advent of slow season, many businesses around the island close down for their yearly renovations in preparation for the peak season beginning in November. Now people ask, “How much more of this slow season can we take?”

    In an interview with Registrar of Hotel and Tourist Accommodation for the Belize Tourism Board Lloyd Enriquez, his offices do not have definitive statistics as to the difference in tourism arrivals from last year and whether or not the hurricane threats adversely affected the bit of tourism influx which Belize was experiencing. Directly from the threats, however, were the cancellations of port calls by the Carnival Cruise Line. These cancellations will resume on January 1st, 2008 – that totals eight calls that will not come through the Belize’s Tourism Village. Each cruise ship call, at maximum capacity, holds 3,500 passengers who will not enjoy what the country has to offer.

    According to Enriquez, calls placed to various businesses and hotels reflect not much of a decline in the influx of tourism in the country. “You have to realize that these threats came during the slow season. A time of the year where it is slow to begin with,” he stressed. His calls placed a five to ten percentile drop in hotel reservations countrywide. Definite stats can not be drawn up until the end period in September.

    Hotels in San Pedro have seen a decline on their reservations but many agree that as early as this weekend some will see a full house again. Below find a few comments:

*Ellis Cortez – Pier Lounge – Business is not bad, it is a bit slower than last year but every September is bad. Things are ok, but we expect it to get much better. *Fitzgerald Brown – Jambel’s Jerk Pit and Coral Beach Hotel – Nothing is going on. Before Dean there was no slow season we kept working. After Dean it was slow but after Felix we are dead. *Julio Cabral – Artisan vendor – Business is terrible. Our sales dropped significantly; there was a 99% drop (laughs). Before Dean we had business but after Felix there is nothing. Not one thing. *Victor Santos– Caliente – I know September is slow but it has not been this slow before. People say that the season died for Dean but there were still people here now, after Felix, there is nada. *Santa Vallecio – housewife, mother of six adult children – I don’t work but my kids do. I can hear it from them and the money that they are earning. Things are not as good no more, and the thing is that everything keeps going up. Chicken just went up and salaries don’t.

    Slow season is here, Dean and Felix were here now San Pedranos push ahead, hoping that tourism reaches its peak once more.
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