By Steve Taggart
A naturally beautiful, near-magical place, of exotic black orchids, mysterious Mayan history and the flaming colours of wild toucans and scarlet macaws, Belize is undoubtedly magnetising. Yet, it remains one of the final unspoilt jewels in Central America’s crown.
The country, which ranges around 20,000 km², is known for its diversity of flora and fauna that is second to none and makes for an enthralling experience. Spanning rich rainforests – home to tapirs who swim in the rivers and colourful motmots who dot the trees – and near-endless barrier reefs – the longest in the world – it is no surprise that Belize is growing in popularity as a to-visit destination.
The Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) recently released figures showing Belize coming in at second place on the list of fastest growing tourist destinations in the Caribbean in the first quarter of 2014, behind only the Turks and Caicos Islands. The country registered 32,712 tourist arrivals in February, an impressive increase of 11.6% in the number of people discovering Belizean treasures on the same month the previous year.
This healthy growth was complemented by interesting figures, also released by the CTO, which broke these arrivals down in terms of the main markets that were visiting. These figures showed an increase of 11% in US visitor numbers in the first quarter of 2014 as well as a vast growth of 26.6% in visitors from Europe.
Wolf Worster, MD of Wolf Wörster Associates, Inc, a global property consultancy marketing The Baymen Resort & Spa in Belize’s Cayo region, gives his take on Belize’s charms,
“Belize really is an outstanding country with the most breathtaking of landscapes and intriguing species, it has a great deal to offer the keen visitor, and it is no surprise that numbers of these are growing as more and more people explore its hidden treasures.
“In this context, The Baymen, set within the beautiful Belizean jungle, is being developed to take full advantage of the incredible environment in which it is set, incorporating a natural waterfall and Mayan spring-fed plunge pools, whilst at the same being virtually carbon neutral, with outstanding eco credentials. Providing tourism is handled carefully and resorts are sympathetic to the rich flora and fauna of Belize in this way, the increase in tourism can only be a good thing for the region.”
And this certainly seems to be the case. The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) released their recent Travel & Tourism Economic Impact report for Belize that showed that travel and tourism contributed 13.5% to the country’s GDP in 2013, a figure they predicted would rise by 4.1% in 2014. This is also not only an immediate trend, with the report also forecasting an even higher 4.4% annual rise in the direct contribution of travel and tourism to Belize’s GDP from 2014 to 2024.
As claimed by Worster, this would be a positive result for the country, with the WTTC predicting an additional 10,000 jobs being generated in the Belizean travel and tourism sector in the next decade, benefitting the wider community.
For more information about The Baymen Lodge and Spa, visit www.thebaymen.com Prices range from $230,000 USD to $460,000 USD.