Belize Economic Recovery
The tourism sector (a significant contributor to the Belize economy) was significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with global tourism hitting a standstill. In 2019, tourism accounted for over 46% of Belize’s GDP. Fisheries, the second-largest source of employment in Belize, was also heavily affected. But Belize has made a quick comeback in the post-pandemic economic recovery.
In Belize, 1/4 (one in four) people are employed in the tourism sector or associated with the tourism industry. With such a large contribution to the country’s GDP and employment, the tourism sector’s strides since the pandemic has led to a quick bounce back. Belize has been aggressively marketing and expanding its reach, adding new direct international flights, broadening its reach, and positioning itself as a convenient and safe destination for sunseekers, investors, luxury tourists, eco-tourists, fishing enthusiasts, and divers. Belize’s proximity to the US (North America), affordable travel options, and the fact that Belize is English-speaking helped regain visitors’ confidence and led to a resurgence in Belize travel and the tourism industry.
In 2022, Belize witnessed an impressive 69.2% growth in overnight tourist arrivals (over 2021), with 370,524 visitors. However, it’s important to note that these numbers still fall short of the pre-pandemic levels of 2019, when over 500,000 tourists visited Belize. Additionally, cruise tourism saw a significant rebound, with 615,021 arrivals in 2022, representing a remarkable 192.6% increase compared to the previous year, 2021.
In Q1 2023, Belize saw an even higher tourism uptick than the prior year, with the highest Q1 inbound overnight tourism numbers. In Q1, 2023, Belize saw 143,319, overnight tourists. This is a 46.5% increase from Q1 2022.