Belize Tourism Update March 2023

Belize Tourism

In 2022, Belize saw tourism rebound and far exceed the COVID years of 2020 & 2021. In 2022, Belize saw nearly 400,000 tourists. So far, in 2023, Belize has seen nearly double the amount of Q1 tourists from the year prior (2022). In January & February 2022, Belize saw roughly 55,000 tourists (the first 2 months of the year). In 2023, over the same period of time (January & February), Belize has seen over 90,000 tourists (according to BTB). After a strong first quarter to 2023 tourism, Belize is on pace for the highest and best year-to-date four tourism and international arrivals.

The growth in tourism is seen in the increased volume of flights and the latest 2023 tourism numbers from the BTB (Belize Tourism Board). In the first few months of 2023, we have seen a 63% increase in tourism from last year! This puts us on track for one of our best years for Belize tourism. The more flights added, the more people visit Belize.

Belize International Flights 2023

 

2022 Tourism

The 2022 year-end tourism statistics for both overnight and cruise ship tourist arrivals show that the tourism industry in Belize has recovered and is now poised to achieve higher records in 2023. In 2022, Belize saw 370,524 overnight tourist arrivals representing a 69.2% growth over 2021. The year 2022, also registered 615,021 cruise tourism arrivals. Below you can see the tourism numbers for 2022;

 

Overnight Air Travel Tourists 2022

In 2022, Belize had a total of 372,614 overnight tourists (arriving by air). That is 74.1% of the overnight tourism in 2019 which was the highest tourism year to date (503,166 overnight tourists in 2019). It is also 81% of the pre-COVID inbound tourism numbers (average of 2018 & 2019). This shows a strong 2022 tourism recovery for Belize.

 

Cruise Ship Tourists 2022

In 2022, Belize had a total of 615,021 tourists arrive and visit Belize via a cruise ship.

 

2023 Tourism

Q1 of 2023 (January to March) has been even better than the year prior. With the highest Q1 inbound overnight tourism numbers to date. In Q1, 2023 Belize saw 143,319 overnight tourists. This is a 46.5% increase from Q1 2022.

 

Overnight Air Travel Tourists 2023

 

Cruise Ship Tourists 2023

The cruise ship numbers have also seen a drastic improvement in 2023 over 2022. With 318,889 cruise ship tourists arriving in Belize in Q1 of 2023. This is 60% higher than Q1 2022, which saw 199,244 cruise ship tourists in Q1.

 

Belize Flights

Many major airlines offer direct flights to Belize City from several cities in the United States, Canada, and Central America. The Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport in Belize City is the main airport in Belize, with several airlines offering daily flights.

It is estimated that around 81% of all international tourists travel come through the Belize International Airport. In 2023 it is even easier to travel to Belize with more international direct flights flying to Belize and the Philip Goldson International Airport (BZE) than ever before.

The only international airport in Belize is in Belize City, which is BZE (Philip Goldson International Airport). The airport handles all the international air travel to and from Belize.

Below you can see all of the direct flights to Belize as of the start of 2023 and the corresponding airline;

 

Why are Tourism & Inbound Flights Important?

One of the best indicators for what will happen to tourism in a specific market is airline stats. The primary reason is that airlines provide some of the most accurate data for how many new visitors will be coming into a market. Airlines also plan their new or additional routes around patterns and searches, this indicates more people are inquiring about Belize.

Increase in Flights = Increase in Incoming Passangers = Increase in Demand for Rentals
Increase in Flights = Increase in Tourism = Appreciation of Real Estate Values


There is a direct correlation between real estate appreciation and tourism growth within tourism markets. The greater the demand, with a limited supply, equates to an increase in value. This, in turn, leads to higher Belize real estate value!

 

Direct Flights & Belize Economy

The Caribbean region (including Ambergris Caye, Belize) is heavily reliant on tourism for its economic health and the growth of the country. In many Caribbean markets such as Cuba, Guyana, Martinique, Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Dominican Republic, more than 90 percent of tourists arrive by air. Luckily, Belize has both the mainland and the islands, with roughly 81% of our 2022 inbound tourism arriving by air travel.

 

Ambergris Caye

Ambergris Caye & San Pedro Town represent the top tourism destination in Belize. With the overall tourism numbers increasing, more-and-more people are making their way to Ambergris Caye.

It is truly amazing seeing all the growth and development around San Pedro Town and the island of Ambergris Caye. The announcement of the new hospital, the improvements to the bridge connecting the southern and northern parts of Ambergris Caye, and the increase in direct international flights, are just some of the many exciting new updates.

All of the development and announcements are largely due to the growth and popularity of Belize and the TOP destination of Ambergris Caye (San Pedro Town).

Ambergris Caye Rental Market & Investment

Belize Real Estate in 2023

Check out the latest video to discover the Biggest Changes and latest developments around San Pedro!

Belize Qualified Retired Person Program (QRP)

Belize QRP

The Belize Qualified Retirement Program (QRP) was created to facilitate eligible people who meet the needed requirements, to obtain residency while allowing them an easy way to permanently live and retire and relax in Belize.

 

Belize QRP Program & Residency

The QRP is renowned as the most efficient path to foreign residency anywhere in the Americas and one of the primary reasons Belize is known as one of the best places to retire in the region (Caribbean & Central America) and, indeed, one of the best place to retire in the world.

Once the application process is completed, the program grants the applicant the equivalent of a green card as well as a wide array of other incentives. The benefits include a permanent exemption from all taxes in Belize (estate taxes, income taxes, capital gains taxes, and most import taxes). While the Belize QRP visa offers full-time residency, new residents can enjoy all the QRP benefits without spending the majority of the year in Belize for naturalized residency.

The requirements to successfully enter the Belize Qualified Retirement Program are remarkably simple when compared to residency programs elsewhere in the world.

 

Qualified Retired Person Incentive Program

Belize is recognized as a top tourist destination and is also considered to be a top destination for people looking for retirement in the Caribbean. To incentivize people to move and retire in Belize, the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) put in place the Qualified Retired Person Incentive Program (QRP). The QRP was developed in the 1990s to open doors for anyone over the age of 45 who is looking to retire in the Central American-Caribbean paradise of Belize.

Belize offers retirees a lot of upsides: English-Speaking, British Common Law, Low-Tax Jurisdiction, close proximity to home, and warm Caribbean Climate. With the influx of retirees and Baby Boomers, Belize has developed a “Permanent Tourist” sector. The QRP was put in place for retirees whose income allows for self-sustainability. The benefits of Belize’s QRP Program for the individual and the country are significant. As stated by International Living, “Belize has one of the world’s best retiree programs”.

 

 

Who Qualifies for QRP?

The QRP is a great program and allows people who meet the criteria to move and reside in Belize (while easily obtaining residency). Though the QRP is a great program, it is not for everyone. There is a list of qualifications that a person meet to apply and get approval. To be granted approval for QRP the qualifications include;

  • A person must be 45 years or older to apply.
  • When applying dependents include spouses and children under 18 years.
  • A person must meet the financial requirement and be the beneficial recipient of a retirement income of $2,000 USD monthly or $24,000 USD annually generated from a source outside of Belize in an approved foreign currency.
    • Retirement Income includes:
      • Pension
      • Annuity
      • Social Security Benefits
      • Investment Account
      • Inheritance
      • Reverse Mortgage
      • Personal Savings
      • Retirement Contribution Plans
      • And other means of retirement income
  • A person applying for QRP must be able to provide a written undertaking to deposit the required amount in a bank, credit union, or licensed financial institution in Belize.
  • Must pass a security clearance check carried out by the Ministry of National Security in Belize.
  • Must be able to remain in Belize for a minimum of 30 consecutive days annually (every year).
  • Qualifying Countries for the QRP include people with citizenship or status in:
    • All Commonwealth countries excluding Belize
    • United States of America
    • Canada
    • Member States of the European Union [EU]
    • Asian-Pacific countries of Australia, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.
    • All South American Countries

 

QRP Incentives & Benefits

The QRP offers applicants and QRP members an array of benefits. Any person who has been accepted into the QRP Program is entitled to the following under the Belize Retired Persons Incentives Act

  • Belize Residency Status – QRP holders and their dependents shall receive a QRP Resident Card to reside in Belize allowing multiple entries into the country without a Visa. *Resident card to be renewed annually *
  • Duty Exemptions – QRP holders shall be entitled to import duty and tax exemption on the following, for personal use only, within the first year of acceptance into the program:
    • Household & Personal Effects multiple entries allowed with no limit on the dollar value of effects
    • Motor Vehicle [Model must be within the last 5 years] – QRP’s are allowed to purchase a new vehicle every four [4] years with proper disposal of the previous vehicle
    • Light Aircraft [Model must be less than 17,000 kg]
    • Motor Boat
  • Tax Exemptions – QRP holders shall be exempted from all taxes and duties on income received from a source outside of Belize, capital gains tax, and inheritance tax (estate tax).
  • Ease of Purchasing Land – QRP holders are entitled to purchase land for the construction of a home or purchase a home for residential use only.
  • Dependent Benefits
    • Dependants under QRP can engage in any employment in Belize
    • Carry on any business, trade, or profession within Belize if such business relates to activities carried on mainly outside of Belize and conducted exclusively with persons not resident in Belize.
    • Make any investment in Belize (Belize Real Estate and Belize Real Estate Investment for example).
    • Practice philanthropy and volunteer work in Belize.

QRP Member Benefits:

  • Qualified Retired Persons can import personal effects free of import duties;
  • Qualified Retired persons are strongly encouraged to purchase a vehicle in Belize. The vehicle must not be more than three years old. Though they can import a vehicle without import duties.
  • This requirement is the same for imported vehicles.
  • Qualified Retired Persons can import a boat free of import duties to be used for personal use;
  • Qualified Retired Persons are exempted from payment of all taxes on income received from outside the jurisdiction of Belize.

QRP Dependent Benefits:

  • Belize Residency Status – Dependent will receive a QRP resident card allowing multiple entries into Belize without a Visa.
  • Engage in any employment in Belize.
  • Carry on any business, trade or profession within Belize if such business relates to activities carried on mainly outside of Belize and conducted exclusively with persons not resident in Belize.
  •  Make any investment in Belize.
  • Practice philanthropy in Belize.

 

Retire and Invest Program

The BTB (Belize Tourism Board) has introduced a new program that allows people to obtain residency in Belize through investment and gives QRP holders the ability to more freely invest in Belize and conduct business in Belize. QRP Members will be entitled to carry on business in Belize with approval if the Member meets the following qualifications:

  • A Business Plan
  • Proof of Investment of at least 1 Million Belize dollars (US$500,000.00)
  • If the person has resided in Belize for at least 180 non-consecutive days.
  • The Business must employ at least five Belizean citizens.

Benefits:

A QRP Member granted approval to carry on business in Belize will be eligible for the following:

  • Permanent residency after designation as a QRP for five (5) years;
  • For the grant of any other license or permit necessary for carrying on business in Belize;
  • Practice philanthropy in Belize.

 

Documents Required for QRP

  1. A QRP Application Form.
  2. Notarized Birth Certificate for each family member (QRP applicant and dependants)
  3. Notarized Marriage Certificate (if the spouse is under QRP)
  4. Original Police Record from last place of residence (issued one month prior to application).
  5. Color Copy of the entire Passport (including all blank pages). This is required for each family member and/or dependant. Each page must be certified and stamped by a notary.
  6. Proof of Income. An official statement from a Bank or any other Financial Institution from the country of residence will be required certifying that the applicant is receiving the required financials for QRP. Proof of a monthly income of a minimum of US $2,000.00 or $24,000.00 US annually. This can be through a pension or annuity that has been generated outside of Belize. Once approved, all retirees are requested to open a local bank account and deposit their monthly pension funds or annual income in the Belizean institution. The Belize Tourism Board will request bank statements on a yearly basis to show proof of income and compliance with the retirement program.
  7. Medical Examination and blood work.
  8. Four front (profile) and four side passport photographs of the QRP applicant and each member of the family applying as dependants.

 

Things to Know About QRP

  • Qualified Retired Persons are not allowed to seek employment in Belize, however, voluntary work and business investments are encouraged.
  • Qualified Retired Persons need to submit a yearly bank statement showing compliance with the financial requirements of the program.
  • Qualified Retired Persons are required to renew their retiree status every year.
  • Qualified Retired Persons need a customs broker to process your importation of personal effects, vehicles, or boats.
  • Qualified Retired Persons are not allowed duty-free on items used to repair or build, nor tools of their trade.

The benefits of the QRP Program include a permanent exemption from all taxes in Belize (estate taxes, income taxes, capital gains taxes, and most import taxes). And while the Belize QRP visa offers full-time residency, new residents can enjoy all the QRP benefits even by spending as little as one month in Belize.

The requirements to successfully enter the Belize QRP Program are remarkably simple when compared to residency programs in other popular retirement destinations. It is a program put in place to incentivize foreign investment and retirement in Belize.

If you are considering retiring in Belize and looking at buying Belize real estate, contact us at RE/MAX Belize!

 

Retire and Invest

  • People who are under and apply for QRP shall be entitled to carry on business in Belize with the approval of the BTB if the person meets the following criteria:
    • A Business Plan.
    • Proof of Investment of at least 1 Million Belize Dollars (1 million BZ) (or $500,000 USD)
    • If the person has resided in Belize for at least 180 non-consecutive days.
    • The Business must employ at least five Belizean citizens.
  • A QRP granted approval to carry on business in Belize shall be eligible for:
    • Permanent residency after designation as a QRP for five [5] years.
    • For the grant of any other license or permit necessary for carrying on business in Belize.
    • Practice philanthropy in Belize.

 

Retiring in Belize with QRP

Belize is recognized as a popular tourist destination and is continuing to grow in popularity. Belize is considered to be a great spot for retirees and expats. Hence, the Qualified Retired Person Incentive Program (QRP) was developed.

The QRP Program was developed in the 1990’s to open doors for anyone 45 years or older with a pension or annuity to retire in this Central American-Caribbean paradise along with his/her spouse and children. With the distinctive benefits that come with being in Belize, mainly being English-speaking and having a warm climate, Belize has developed a “Permanent Tourist” sector. Retirees whose income allows for self-sustainability help to add to Belize’s economy. The benefits of Belize’s QRP Program for the individual and the country are significant. As stated by International Living, “Belize has one of the world’s best retiree programs”.

 

Retiring in Belize

Retiring in Belize with QRP
Infographic showing retiring in Belize and QRP program.

Belize is a Leader in Sustainability

Belize is a Leader in Sustainability

The United Nations defined “sustainability” as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” 

Sustainability has become a popular buzzword in both the tourism and real estate industries. That said there are countries that take more action when it comes to environmental policies and sustainability. Countries, like Belize, have programs in place to help protect the environment, and culture and reduce the ecological impact. Belize is leading the way when it comes to environmental policies and sustainability (according to Forbes).

Many countries in the region of Caribbean & Central America depend on tourism dollars as their primary source of income and GDP. Belize is a country that has a lot of its economy centered around tourism. Much of the tourism to Belize is around the country’s natural ecosystem including the Belize Barrier Reef & lush Rainforest Jungles. Preserving the environment of Belize is not only the right thing to do, but it also makes good economic sense based on the country’s tourism sector.

Belize is located in Central America on the Caribbean side, just south of Mexico (below the Yucatan Peninsula) because of this, Belize has a decidedly Caribbean feel and culture. The geographical location and Caribbean Culture (also being English Speaking)is appealing to visitors and tourists who want to go snorkeling, diving, and fishing in some of the most beautiful water in the world and along the world’s largest living reef. Belize is home to the second-largest barrier reef in the world (the largest living reef). It has a plethora of islands off the coast, including Ambergris Caye (the largest island and most popular destination in Belize) with rainforests blanketing the mainland.

With the environment being a large tourism driver, Belize has set up several programs to not only attract travelers but to protect the land and its ecosystem.

For example, Belize has put in programs to protect endangered species such as the Jaguar, also partnering with the Maya Forest Corridor, protecting landscapes from Belize’s Maya Mountains, through the tri-national Maya forest. This region which consists of Belize, Mexico, and Guatemala is the most extensive continuous stretch of jungle in Central America.

More than 70% of Belize is forested, these lush rainforests make the Belize jungle a mecca for wildlife. Belize has also dedicated that 46% of the country is protected National Park & Marine Reserve. Because of this, Belize has over a hundred protected areas, both on land and around the reef.

Belize is also at the forefront of leading cultural sustainability, with efforts to support local community tourism so travelers can engage with and learn about the local Mayan & Garifuna cultures. Belize has a rich history filled with cultural diversity. The plethora of Mayan Temples are all protected and are a key part of Belizean Heritage.

 

Sustainability of the Reef & Ocean

The Belize Barrier Reef is the country’s largest attraction and something natural to the region. Because of this, Belize is very active in preserving the water and coastline. There are a number of protected areas and Marine Reserves (including Hol Chan and the popular Attols). Belize has also banned all commercial fishing from its water, as well as banned commercial drilling from the coastline.

The waters and reefs along the East Coast of Belize and extending the entire coastline host a diverse variety of marine life, from sting rays, manatees, sea turtles, and colorful corals. The Belize Barrier Reef draws scuba divers, snorkelers, fishermen, and water enthusiasts from all over the world. Belize has a reef protection and sustainable tourism program to go along with the “Blue Economy Initiative“, these programs include a new diving site where divers can explore the marine life and waters while reducing strain on these radiant reefs and eco-systems.

Belize has put in place a law and moratorium on offshore oil exploration and drilling in the entirety of Belizean waters. The reef is an integral part of many Belizeans’ livelihoods, whether in the fishing industry or tourism industry, and preserving that water is a key sustainability effort.

Belize also has the Fish Right, Eat Right program which has a commitment to sustainable seafood. The program was created to control illegal fishing and promote best practices in fisheries. Many restaurants, especially in Ambergris Caye, have signed up for the program and have been sourcing seafood responsibly and through local vendors. The program initially targeted restaurants and hotels but is slated to include cooperatives, fish markets, supermarkets, and other seafood purveyors within Belize.

 

Belize Sustainability Programs

Ecotourism thrives in Belize with environmental activities, including hiking to waterfalls, horseback riding, ziplining through the canopies, and visiting wildlife sanctuaries. Belize is known to be a culinary destination and is actually devoid of chain restaurants, with locally produced food and popular local restaurants, travelers can enjoy the food and Belizean culture.

Recently, eco-resorts in Belize have become increasingly popular as they prioritize sustainability as their basis in all things they do.

 

If you are looking to learn more about Belize’s sustainability efforts or would like to explore Belize real estate and investment opportunities contact REMAX Belize!

RE/MAX Worldwide Network & Stats 2023

RE/MAX 2022 Year in Review

RE/MAX Belize is part of the RE/MAX network and one of the most recognized global real estate brands. RE/MAX has a large market share and presence in Belize with 13 offices and over 100 agents. The RE/MAX brand just celebrated 50 years at the annual R4 conference. At R4 the stats and numbers for RE/MAX in 2022 were released. Not only has RE/MAX grown in Belize, but it has also grown globally. In 2022, RE/MAX remained the #1 brand in real estate. Showing once again that “Nobody in the World Sells More Real Estate Than RE/MAX”.

RE/MAX is more than a brand, it is a network of agents from around the world!

As of year-end 2022, RE/MAX had over 140,000 agents worldwide and a presence in over 110 countries!

You can see the global presence of RE/MAX in the map below;

 

Not only does RE/MAX have a large global presence, but RE/MAX also remains the largest and most recognizable real estate brand in the world. RE/MAX also once again had the highest agent productivity by brand with over 16 transactions per agent. RE/MAX is in over 110 countries with almost 9,000 offices and over 140,000 agents worldwide.

 

If you are looking to learn more about Belize real estate or want to invest in Belize contact RE/MAX Belize. The #1 Name in Real Estate!

RE/MAX Belize Team Awards & Accolades at R4

Dustin Rennie, Will Mitchell, Ruben Young & Trevor Stack Winning at RE/MAX R4

RE/MAX Belize at R4 Awards & Accolades

The team at RE/MAX Belize was recognized as a team and as individuals at the annual RE/MAX R4 Event in Las Vegas. Not only did the RE/MAX Belize Team win the Caribbean & Central America Brokerage of the Year for 2022. William Mitchell & Dustin Rennie were also recognized by RE/MAX Global for Career Achievement and Acknowledgement for selfless leadership, outstanding accomplishments, and unwavering passion for the network.

 

Will Mitchell

Will Mitchell RE/MAX Pinnacle Award
Will Mitchell RE/MAX Pinnacle Award

2022 Pinnacle Award
The Highest Individual Award for annual gross commissions. $2 million+ in gross commissions in a single year.

#2 Residential Producer in RE/MAX Caribbean & Central America
The second-ranked residential real estate agent in the Caribbean & Central America.

RE/MAX Top 100 Agents for 2022
RE/MAX Top 100 Year-End: Worldwide Residential & Commercial Agents.

Top 10 Global RE/MAX Residential Agent (#6 Ranking)
Ranked #6 Residential Real Estate Agent among all RE/MAX Global Agents.

 

 

Dustin Rennie

Dustin Rennie Top Commercial Agent in CCA 2022.
Dustin Rennie with RE/MAX Belize winning top commercial agent for Caribbean & Central America.

#1 Top Producer Commercial Agent RE/MAX Caribbean & Central America 2022
The Top Producer & #1 Commercial Real Estate Agent for RE/MAX Caribbean & Central America in 2022.

2022 Diamond Award
RE/MAX Diamond Club – recognizes associates who have earned $1 million or more in gross commissions in a single year.

Your membership in the RE/MAX Diamond Award Club represents a pinnacle of success attained by only a select few in the real estate profession. Your commitment to your customers and clients as well as your contributions to the real estate industry – are deeply valued by RE/MAX! Congratulations on your spectacular year. Thank you for your important contributions to the success of our organization.

RE/MAX Top 100 Agents for 2022
RE/MAX Top 100 Year-End: Worldwide Residential & Commercial Agents.

Top 10 Global RE/MAX Commercial Agent (#8 Ranking)
Ranked #8 Commercial Real Estate Agent among all RE/MAX Global Agents.

 

 

Will Mitchell, Dustin Rennie, Trevor Stack & Ruben Young at R4 Event Caribbean & Central America.
Will Mitchell, Dustin Rennie, Trevor Stack & Ruben Young at R4 Event Caribbean & Central America.

 

Will Mitchell, Dustin Rennie, Trevor Stack & Ruben Young Brokerage of the Year 2022 RE/MAX CCA.
Will Mitchell, Dustin Rennie, Trevor Stack & Ruben Young Brokerage of the Year 2022 RE/MAX CCA.

 

Ruben Young & Trevor Stack at R4
Ruben Young & Trevor Stack at R4

 

Trevor Stack

RE/MAX Platinum Award
Recognizes individuals and teams who earned $250,000 to $499,999 in gross commissions.

Broker Owner of the Year Caribbean & Central America RE/MAX 100

 

Ruben Young

RE/MAX Platinum Award
Recognizes individuals and teams who earned $250,000 to $499,999 in gross commissions.

RE/MAX Caribbean & Central America Rookie of the Year
Recognized as the top first-year rookie agent for RE/MAX in the Caribbean & Central America.

 

RE/MAX Belize at R4

Will Mitchell, Dustin Rennie, Trevor Stack & Ruben Young at R4
Will Mitchell, Dustin Rennie, Trevor Stack & Ruben Young at R4

 

Will Mitchell, Dustin Rennie, Trevor Stack & Ruben Young at R4 Event Caribbean & Central America.
Will Mitchell, Dustin Rennie, Trevor Stack & Ruben Young at R4 Event Caribbean & Central America.

 

Dustin Rennie, Will Mitchell, Ruben Young & Trevor Stack Winning at RE/MAX R4
Dustin Rennie, Will Mitchell, Ruben Young & Trevor Stack Winning at RE/MAX R4

 

Will Mitchell, Dustin Rennie, Trevor Stack & Ruben Young Brokerage of the Year 2022 RE/MAX CCA.
Will Mitchell, Dustin Rennie, Trevor Stack & Ruben Young Brokerage of the Year 2022 RE/MAX CCA.