By Ingrid Fernandez, Staff Reporter
Although the first quarter of 2015 was off to a slow start, the next seven months, and particularly the last four months recorded spectacular tourism figures. This is according to officials at the Belize Tourism Board (BTB).
Javier Paredes, director of business development and registrar of hotels, and Noriko Gamero, marketing and public relations manager, explained that 2015 saw a 6.2 percent increase in overnight arrivals and 7 percent increases in passengers arriving by airplane.
The arrivals by cruise lines took a slight decrease of one percent, Paredes explained, saying the slight dip must be seen in relation to a significant increase in cruise arrivals that occurred in 2014.
Paredes said the increase was influenced by BTB’s marketing strategy to engage the cruise lines and external factors such as re-deployment of cruise lines from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean. Re-deployments are out of the control of the Board as they happen off and on, he continued.
Sustaining the 200,000 increase was challenging for the Board but proved doable as 2015, even with the slight dip, still recorded within more than 900,000 cruise passengers arriving in the country. “Our approach is not only to increase, but to sustain,” said Paredes.
Recently Royal Caribbean Cruise Line suspended tourist business in Belize, which they were conducting with Dark Night Cave Adventures.
The suspension came on the heels of the Bradley Paumen scandal, in which the tour operator was accused of conspiracy to commit murder,6 and operating without a valid tour license.