The Belize Tourist Board (BTB) has released the tourist arrival and hotel occupancy statistics for the 4th quarter of 1997. According to the figures provided by the Immigration Department, tourist arrivals at Philip W. Goldson International Airport increased for the third consecutive quarter in 1997. The latest figures show a 12.1% increase compared to the similar period last year, however, air arrivals to date (end of 1997) are 1% below those of 1995 tourist arrivals at the land borders and seaports. The international airport is the major port of entry and accounts for 60 to 65 percent of tourist arrivals. The number of tourist arrivals reported by Immigration includes recreational tourists only and does not include persons traveling on business and visiting officials.
According to the Immigration Department's annual summary of arrivals for 1997, the number of tourist visitors numbered 206,206 compared to 143,434 last year. At the same time arrivals in the category "Other Central Americans" were reported as 622, compared to 18,409 last year. It was immediately realized that the number of tourist visitors was being over-reported in 1997, and evidently included many Central Americans who would normally be categorized in the "Other Central Americans" category. It was noted that the group "Other Central Americans" included mainly Guatemalans and Mexicans who transit the Western and Northern borders daily for work and education. Most can be categorized as border workers or students, and the majority are same-day visitors, hence they would not properly categorize as tourists (overnight visitors). A decision was made to adjust the number of tourist arrivals in 1997 reported by the Immigration Department, and to revise the 1996 tourist arrivals, both using results of the 1997 Visitors Survey.
The tourist category as reported by the Immigration Department included recreational visitors for the most part. International (P.G.I.A.) tourism statistics includes recreational as well as business and official visitors.
Hotel Room Revenue
Average room occupancy reported for the final quarter of 1997 was 26.3%, representing an improvement in the 24.4% average occupancy rate for the similar period in 1996. Room occupancy rates improved in all 3 months of the 4th quarter of 1997 over the previous year.
Room occupancy for the period January to December 1997 averaged 27.1%. This represents a slight increase in the average room occupancy rate in 1997 over 1996, and a decrease from the 29.5% average occupancy reported for the same period of 1995.
The average room rate reported for the final quarter of 1997 was BZ$121.02 representing a 8.7% drop over the similar period in 1996, and a 5.1% increase over the final quarter of 1995. The average room rates fell in all three months of the final quarter. This drop in average room rates in the fourth quarter of 1997 contributed to the 7.5% decline in room revenue reported in the same period last year.
The average room rate reported for the period January to December 1997 was BZ$124.71, representing a 2.7% decline in average room rates reported for the same period previous year, and a 8.3% increase over the 1995 average room rate. Again, this drop in average room rates contributed to only a small 0.2% change in the 1997 room revenue.
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