Tourist Arrivals Down 18.2% in Second Quarter.... Hotel Income Increases 1.6% as Room Rates Continue Upward Trend
Statistics released last week by the Belize Tourist Board (BTB) show that 18.2 percent fewer tourists arrived in Belize during the second quarter of 1996. Although there were fewer tourists, hotel income increased 2 per cent, indicating that tourists paid significantly more in hotel rates for their trip to Belize. In addition, with the imposition of the 15% value added tax on many tourist expenses such as restaurants and additional Protected Areas Conservation Trust (PACT) fees at entry points, the cost of a tourist's trip to Belize increased dramatically during the second quarter. According to the notes accompanying the hotel statistics, "Monthly Hotel Room Revenue reported for the 1st six months of 1996 amounted to BZ $20.1 million. This represents a 4.6 per cent decline in room revenue compared to the first six months of 1995. Analysis by quarter shows that room revenue reported for the first quarter of 1996 was 8.1 per cent below the first quarter of 1995. However, room revenue reported for the second quarter of 1996 increased by 1.6 percent over second quarter 1995.

Generally, monthly room occupancy rates fell over the first six months of 1996, with the exception of February. Analysis of room occupancy rates by area showed that occupancy rates for the Belize district were generally higher during the first six months of 1996 over 1995. Room occupancy rates for Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker and Placencia showed significant drops in the first six months of 1996 over 1995. Average room occupancy rate for the first six months of 1996 was 32 percent.

Average nightly room rates generally increased in the first six months of 1996 over 1995. With the exception of January, the first six months of 1996 showed a reversal of the decline in room rates in 1995 over 1994. The average nightly room rate for the first six months of 1996 was $130.94" The obvious conclusion from the above is that tourists are spending more time in Belize City and Cayo and less time on the cayes and Placencia.

In the "Tourist Arrivals" comments attached to the statistics, the pattern of arriving tourists was discussed. "Tourist arrivals at the Philip Goldson International Airport for the first six months of 1996 were reported as 48,326. this represents a 7.4 per cent drop in tourist arrivals compared to the similar period of 1995. Analysis of tourist arrivals by quarter showed that arrivals for the first three months of 1996 increased by 1.4 percent over the similar 1995 period, while arrivals for the second quarter of 1996 decreased by 18.2 percent over arrivals for the second quarter of 1995."

The month of May showed the greatest drop in tourism, with a 20% decline in the number of 1996 tourists over 1995. In fact, the 5,667 tourists that arrived in May is the lowest number for that month since 1991, after Desert Storm, when many people did not travel.

Occupancy rates by area also show Belize City closing in on Ambergris Caye. Ambergris Caye has , until this point generally reflected the highest occupancy rates in the country. In June of 1996, Belize City’s occupancy rate exceeded that of the island.

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