Belize anticipates strong tourism recovery with focus on diverse, sustainable product offerings
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The Central American and Caribbean nation of Belize is reporting a positive outlook for its tourism sector and expects to come close to full recovery following the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking at the Routes Americas air route development conference in Chicago last month, Belize’s Director of Tourism, Evan Tillett, said that despite pandemic-related challenges, Belize registered 75 percent of its 2019 numbers in 2022, and is projecting to finish the current year at around 90 percent of its 2019 tally, with growth predicted for 2024 and 2025.
Tillett believes key factors driving Belize’s tourism industry include the diversity of its product, Belize’s focus on sustainability, and its commitment to offering an authentic, experiential product that showcases its culture and natural assets, which Belizeans describe as “wealth untold”.
“I think Belize is one of the most diverse destinations on the planet in a very small space. We have 8,867 square miles, and we have not only the sun, the beach, but we have an authentic product. We have basically what the new post-COVID tourist is looking for,” he said.
Belize is home to the largest living barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere, three of the four atolls in the Caribbean, and an extensive cave system. Add Mayan history and a cultural melting pot, and the destination has something for everyone, from adventure seekers to those seeking relaxation and rejuvenation.
In terms of accommodations, the experienced tourism executive emphasized that Belize has a wide range of options, from budget-friendly “mom and pop” operations to the Alaia Belize, Autograph Collection, which opened in 2021. Additionally, the upcoming Four Seasons Resort and Residences and other properties in the pipeline demonstrate the country’s commitment to expanding its accommodation offerings.
Tillett acknowledged that securing direct air connectivity with Europe remains a challenge. The government and tourism board are actively working to build interest, awareness and demand for Belize among European airlines and tour operators, while prospects for expanding airlift from North America look solid.
The New York market is also important for Belize’s tourism industry, and Tillett noted with anticipation the return of the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s presence during “Caribbean Week in New York” from June 5 to 8, 2023, as a key opportunity to promote the Caribbean region and its diverse offerings in the city.
“Belize is in the western Caribbean and on the outskirts, but we are considered the Caribbean basin in Central America, and so it’s important that we sell the Caribbean for what we all offer. We have beaches, but we have different products that will allow us to be competitive with the world,” Tillett added.