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Tourism Arrivals Are Up In Belize, Good News Amid A Volatile Year For Caribbean Tourism

Belize continues to enjoy a steady annual increase in tourism arrivals, posting a strong first half of 2019, amid a volatile year for Caribbean tourism. The Lodge at Chaa Creek's managing director points to the growth of Green travel as a major factor in Belize's global popularity.

SAN IGNACIO, Belize, Oct. 24, 2019 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- With many Caribbean hotels experiencing a turbulent first half of 2019, Belize continues to buck downward trends with figures showing a healthy increase in tourist arrivals during the same period, according to The Lodge at Chaa Creek's managing director.

Bryony Fleming Bradley said the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) reported another strong finish to the first half of 2019, with the country enjoying an increase of six percent in overnight arrivals and over ten percent in cruise ship arrivals compared to the same period last year.

Meanwhile, recent reports in Travel Pulse and other media outlets quote data from global travel research firm STR data showing that, overall, Caribbean hotel occupancy has been in decline throughout spring and summer 2019.

According to STR, Caribbean hotel occupancy fell 5.6 percent between April and August 2019, dropping from a high of 75.2 in March to 61.1 percent in June, as compared to the same period in 2018.

Revenue per available room (RevPAR) in Caribbean hotels also declined overall during the same period.

Some travel destinations, however, bucked the downward trend, with Travel Pulse reporting that "Tourism officials in Belize, Grenada and St Lucia... reported higher first half arrivals."

The Caribbean News online edition of 12 October 2019 also led with the headline "Belize Reports No Decline in Hotel Occupancy," and went on to say that: "Belize, Grenada and St. Lucia are among those that are reporting higher tourist arrival figures than last year," before quoting the BTB figures indicating an increase of six per cent in overnight visitors and 10.8 per cent in cruise ship visitor arrivals.

Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, the Cayman Islands, Curacao, and Turks and Caicos also reported first half year increases, according to Travel Weekly.

With Caribbean Journal and other travel media running similar stories, Ms. Bradley said the BTB figures show the importance of sustainable tourism to today's travelling public.

"For years now we've enjoyed a steady annual increase in tourist arrivals, and while there's a combination of factors that make Belize so attractive, guest comments and travel writers point to our nationwide commitment to sustainable tourism and responsible travel as a major attraction," Ms. Bradley said.

"Industry research consistently shows that today's travellers are, more and more, basing their travel decisions on a destination's Green credentials, and Belize, since independence, has been recognised globally as a model for sustainable tourism and responsible travel.

"You take that green reputation and combine it with stunning scenery, a friendly multicultural population, a variety of exciting activities, and so much more, and it's easy to understand Belize's appeal," Ms. Bradley explained.

More than half of travellers surveyed by Conde Nast Traveller said their choice of hotels is based on the support the hotel gives to the local community, 71% of respondents to a Trip Advisor survey said they plan to make more eco-friendly choices in the next year, and a Nielson Wire Survey found 46% of respondents were willing to pay more for destinations showing strong Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

Is Belize's commitment to the environment and local communities a determinant in the country's continued popularity as a tourism destination?

Ms. Bradley said that comments from Chaa Creek guests suggest that a commitment to sustainability is a definitely a factor in that Belize eco-resort's popularity.

"Our guests have always been enthusiastic about our green operations. They consistently tell us, for example, how knowing that ten precent of their room revenue going directly into environmental and social projects makes them feel better about their vacations," she said.

"Tourism is by nature a dynamic, volatile industry, with highs and lows in any given year.

"But one lesson we've learned in nearly forty years of operations is that today's travellers are increasingly sensitive about the effect their visits have on a host nation's environment and people, and they will gravitate towards destinations that show a commitment towards environmental protection and supporting communities.

"And that's very good news for the tourism industry and the planet," Ms. Bradley said.

The Lodge at Chaa Creek is a multi-award winning eco resort set within a 400-acre private nature reserve along the banks of the Macal River in Belize. It was recognised by National Geographic with first place honours at the 2017 World Legacy Awards held in Berlin.