Tourism continues to be one of the top revenue generators for Belize and it is expected to become even greater with the upcoming Harvest Caye Port in southern Belize. For now, however, tourism is booming and the Belize Tourism Board has sent out the statistics on tourist arrivals describing them as being impressive. With the first half of 2016 already passed, the BTB is reporting a sixteen point five percent increase in overnight arrivals when compared to the first half of 2015. It is extraordinary as for the first time, the data has shown arrivals reaching over two hundred thousand in the first half of any given year. Noriko Gamero who heads the Public Relations and the Marketing Unit of the BTB, told Love News that the increase is just what they were aiming for when they applied certain strategies.
“We had a 16.5% increase in the first half of this year, we have really done a lot of different initiatives this year that we attribute to the continuous trend of increase. Some examples can be that we have pushed a lot more on our fam trips, our trade teams have done many road shows and consumer shows, they continue to do some webinars in different strategic countries such as North and South America and Europe. We also launched a couple weeks ago the inter regional marketing campaign that we are doing with CICA. We are also promoting the closing of our European Agency who have started their initiatives in Europe so we’ve seen that 10.4 increase in the European market and of course we are continuing to push our marketing campaigns our different advertisements our PR and social initiatives in North America as they still drive almost 70% of our increase in that specific market. We have continued to be proactive in our social media pitches and we just think that overall our PR initiatives in quick wins have been one of our biggest attributes to the billions of impressions that we’ve garnered for this year.”
With the upward trend being seen in the arrivals of visitors, the question does arise as to how prepared are the service providers for the increase … and what standards are being set when it comes to accommodations, water sports among other things. Gamero told Love News it is all a part of capacity building which the BTB is engaged in.
“That question is two fold because we have the standards that we are trying to implement so we’ve worked on implementing the scuba diving standards that are now enforced and in the trainings the capacity building which we’ve done, a lot of the tour guide training. The Belize City Heritage tour guide training along with the general principal training for Belize City and they are continuing to develop a lot more training for other regions in Belize.”
The release coming out of the BTB also spoke of plans in place to continue promoting Belize as a tourist destination. We asked Gamero of those plans.
The current data has shown January, March and May as the months where significant increases were seen with March recording over thirty nine thousand arrivals. The US market holds the highest share of travellers to Belize, making up close to seventy percent of the arrivals. The European market follows with about a ten percent share. As for the cruise industry, while this sector has seen an increase as well, it is not as significant as the data on overnight tourism. There has been a two point six percent registered increase in cruise tourist arrivals with May and June being the peak months with about sixty two thousand and sixty five thousand respectively.