By Cristal Romo
Caribbean News Now contributor
BELMOPAN, Belize -- Stayover tourist arrivals in Belize demonstrated a steady increase as the second quarter of 2012 came to an end. Belize’s tourism industry has seen record-breaking months during the first half of 2012.
The first half of the year ended on a high note, with a 9% increase in overnight arrivals compared to last year. Tourist arrivals and airport arrivals are expected to continue their growth.
Total Overnight Tourist Arrivals
An overall increase of 9% in overnight tourist arrivals was recorded during the second quarter of 2012. A total of 5,791 more tourists stayed in the country overnight during the second quarter when compared to the second quarter of 2011.
January started with an arrival number of 24,263 visitors to Belize. This represented a 2.9% increase over last year’s figure. February’s figure totaled 25,778 visitors, which represents a 8.1% increase over 2011’s figure. March recorded a history-making total of 32,240 visitors, the first time Belize's overnight tourist arrival numbers exceeded 32,000 visitors in any one month.
The closest runner-up to this was in March 2007, when the country hosted 31,267 visitors.
April’s 2012 figure of 23,699 surpassed the 2011 figure of 23,585. While April showed an increase, the month of May worked its way up to a 14.6% growth over its 2011 counterpart, making this month a record breaking high month. The month of June did not disappoint, with a 13.1% increase over last year’s recorded figure. June 2012 had a total of 24,615 visitors, trumping last year’s figure of 21,755.
Overall, there was a 13.8% increase in airport tourist arrivals through the first half of 2012, which indicates strong growth despite going into the slow season of the tourism calendar.
In January 2012, there were a record number of airport tourist arrivals, which totaled 18,558 visitors. This represented a 10.47% increase in arrivals in January, which was immediately followed by a record high in arrivals for the month of February. In fact, February saw 20,450 overnight visitors through the airport. This was a 12.6% increase over February last year.
The consistent growth continued in March, which saw 25,982 visitors; a figure which surpassed the March 2007 arrival record of 25,195 visitors.
April 2012 welcomed a total of 17,969 visitors, which was a 7.8% increase when compared to April 2011. This represented a difference of 1,300 airport arrivals.
May was a record-breaking month with a total of 17,150 visitors through the airport. This figure represented a 20.3% increase over the previous year. This converts to 2,900 more overnight arrivals in Belize than that of last year. The month of June continued the trend, as the 20% increase overshadowed the 16,847 figure of last year. Some 3,365 more tourists arrived this June at the airport than in June 2011.
There have been consecutive increases in cruise arrival numbers from November 2011 to January 2012. In January 2012 Belize boasted 86,128 cruise visitors, representing a 34.9% increase. This is a total of 22,293 more visitors compared to last year at that time. In February 2012, there were 70,711 cruise visitors which was an increase of 13,847 cruise passengers.
During March, April, May and June of 2012, the cruise industry saw a decrease in cruise arrivals. Cumulatively, a 5.9% decrease in arrivals has been recorded for the first half of 2012, compared to the figures of the same period in 2011. This decline is attributed to the fact that during the tourist season there are seven ships stopping in Belize, and as the tourist season slowly tapers off, there has only been one ship carrying tourists to Belize.
Overall, there was a 13.8% increase in overall arrivals through the first half of 2012, which indicates strong growth despite going into the slow season of the tourism calendar. In all, Belize’s tourism industry is showing signs of growth and it continues to set new records during 2012.