By Alexis R. Milan
Final tourism numbers are in for 2014 and as expected, Belize set a new record for tourist arrivals with a total of 1,207,386 visitors to the country as the prospects continue to look bright for 2015 with additional flights adding Belize to their routes.
According to the Belize Tourism Board (BTB), Belize also recorded 321,220 overnight visitors, which is significant because the 300,000 mark has been elusive for quite some time. This total figure represents a 9.2 percent increase in overnight visitors from the year before. According to the BTB, March continues to be the month with the most overnight arrivals at 38,712 visitors.
Airport arrivals also saw a seven percent increase from 2013 with a total of 239,255 arrivals compared to 2013’s 223,510. Consistent with overnight arrival numbers, March saw the largest total of airport arrivals with 30,754 passengers arriving at the Phillip Goldson International Airport (PGIA).
Cruise arrivals also saw a 42.9 percent increase, despite 13 ship cancellations, according to BTB data. The total number of cruise arrivals was 968,131 compared to 2013’s 677,350. The months of June and July saw increases of 120.2 percent and 106.8 percent respectively.
BTB statistics indicate that North America, but mainly the United States continues to be Belize’s largest tourism market, while Europe continues to be the second largest market.
Several airlines also expanded their service to include Belize in more of their schedules. Delta Airlines employed additional flights through the Atlanta route to Belize, while United Airlines announced a new direct flight for Chicago to Belize, operational December 2014. Southwest Airlines also announced that they would begin non-stop service to Belize, via Houston’s William P. Hobby Airport starting October 2015.