Tourism Accounts for 33% of Jobs in Belize – San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, Belize is considered the tourism capital of Belize and the place where the Belize tourism industry began, based on the attractions of the sea, sun, sand and reef.
The Visitor Expenditure and Motivation Survey 2008, identified Ambergris Caye as the most popular tourism destination in Belize with the highest percentage of visitors (38%) selecting Ambergris Caye as their chosen destination.
The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) just recently released a report indicating that for the year 2013, travel and tourism netted Belize BZ$1.2 billion, or 36.6% of GDP, in 2013. WTTC forecasts that travel and tourism in Belize should grow by 4.5% during 2014. These positive figures reinforce the statistics released by the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) indicating that tourism arrivals grew in 2013 by 5.7% for the cruise tourism sector and by 6.1% for the overnight tourism sector.
Over the past two and a half decades the population on Ambergris Caye has been increasing by over 10% per annum: a growth stimulated by the rapid increase in tourism activities. Of Belize’s current 752 registered hotels totalling 7,172 rooms, Ambergris Caye has the greatest share of the market with 157 hotels (21%) and 25% of total room stock.
Ambergris Caye attracts a high spending overnight clientele with the highest average room rates in the country of BZE$ 403.7 a night in 2013, reflecting the higher end accommodation type available, with limited budget hotels.
HECK! We have been voted the #1 Island in the World via TripAdvisor two consecutive years in a row. No one in Belize can deny the fact that Ambergris Caye contributes tremendously to the tourism industry of the country.
San Pedro, Ambergris Caye is growing fast; maybe a little too fast. I love the direction that it is going, but our leaders better sit down and think very carefully at the decisions they make. For every action they take, there might be three to five reactions that they must be ready for. Is the town ready, is there enough infrastructure to sustain such fast development, do the positive effects outweigh the negatives ones and will they be ultimately beneficial for all island residents? Those are some questions amongst many that need to be addressed before any decisions are made.
There are many areas open for proper development and infrastructure. Our beaches are crying for reclamation, mangrove management, water parks, safe swimming areas and more beautification. What about the water and sewerage systems for the remaining developing areas of the town’s subdivisions? Do not forget the streets and roads that all need to be cemented and properly drained. There is no more affordable land for our citizens to fit in our rapidly expanding communities. There is no land distribution policy or program except for real estate from everyone, even from government.
Then let us not forget the urgent need of a 24-hour hospital with emergency capabilities and ambulance service and personnel. Remember too the need to invest in our police department, more personnel, better offices, and proper housing plus working towards our own police force. There is need for two more public government schools, not only to facilitate universal education but also to make primary education affordable to everyone with an emphasis on “everyone”. San Pedro does not have a market. San Pedro deserves and needs an airport that is a port of entry to international travel. And this litany of needs can go on if we only sit to discuss and plan.
Ambergris Caye does need a lot more of its own taxpayers’ monies to stay on the island to help it keep up with development. Many residents complain that government does not feed its goose with the golden egg or invest enough in its moneymaker. All of these statistics prove that Ambergris Caye is, without a doubt, the country’s moneymaker. Our government does need to invest and develop tourism around the country with taxpayers’ money, but many on the island feel that we are not getting our fair share of returns. Do not forget this figure: $1.2 billion netted by tourism and of that 38% is generated by Ambergris Caye “by choice”. It is a whopping $456,000,000. Do we all agree we need a bigger share of the tourism dollars? Thank you.