Ch 5:

Tourist arrivals dip in January to August

The primary market for tourism in Belize is the United States and with a depressed economy, more Americans are staying at home. Statistics just released show a dip in tourist arrivals for the period of January to August of this year. The number of arriving visitors to the jewel decreased overall by point six percent with the number of tourists from the U.S. down by one point eight percent. But according to tourism officials, the number of tourists from European and Canadian markets increased in the first six months of the year. Despite the financial crunch, there is some optimism that travel fares will go down resulting from the significant drop in the price of oil to a new low of sixty-two dollars and eighty-seven cents per barrel as the peak season approaches.

News Five spoke with Director of Product Development, Laura Esquivel, who explained why there was a decrease in arrivals and what we can expect for the rest of the season.

Laura Esquivel, Director for Product Development, B.T.B.
The biggest decrease, which actually accounted for the overall decrease ,occurred in April of this year where we saw a decrease of about ten percent. But when we look at the trends around the rest of Caribbean countries, we actually saw that the countries that had a primarily European/Canadian market base saw increases and all those Caribbean Countries who have a primarily U.S. base are the ones that saw the decreases. So again, were looking at the U.S. economy. The top foreclosures in the United States have affected two of our top five destinations within the U.S. speaking of Florida and California. Those always make our top five in terms of arrivals to Belize and those are some of the hardest hit states in terms of foreclosure. So all of that goes into effect when were looking at our arrivals here. Its an overall decrease. This means its from January to August looking at all the figures, were at point six percent decrease, which when you look at the global market and what's happening out there, around the world, especially in the U.S. market which is our strongest market, its actually not too bad.

According to the figures, there were one hundred and eighty-four thousand, one hundred and thirty-two overnight visitors to Belize with the Philip Goldson International Airport receiving the bulk of sixty-nine percent. Cruise ship passengers, meanwhile, from January to September stood at four hundred thirty-two thousand, six hundred and forty-six, representing a six percent decrease from the same period last year.