Tourism in Belize -History, Ecology and Statistics
In recent years, Belize has seen an explosive growth in its popularity as a tourist destination. In 1995, only 130,809 travelers visited this small Central American nation. By 2012, the number grew to over 900,000. This has made tourism the nation’s second largest industry, providing jobs to 25% of the populace.
Environmentalists and the local citizens are thrilled that, instead of cutting down its rainforests, Belize can use this resource to attract eco-tourists. Many such travelers come to Belize to enjoy its lush natural beauty. They can hike and climb the Maya Mountains and take boat tours through the mangroves, where gentle manatees play. The government has set aside many areas to preserve the unique wildlife found here.
These areas include the jaguar sanctuary at the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary and the bird sanctuary at Half Moon Caye. Run by the Audubon Society, this provides a haven for the rare red-footed booby.
For many scuba divers, Belize is on their bucket list thanks to its proximity to the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. Here they can find such remarkable sites as the Great Blue Hole, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Hol Chan Marine Reserve is another popular destination not just for divers but also for snorkelers. Its shallow waters provide homes for an incredible diversity of corals and marine creatures.
This nature preserve is located close to Ambergris Caye, which, along with Caye Caulker, attracts the most visitors. It’s no surprise that these islands are so popular. They have beautiful beaches as well as being a haven for water sports such as sailing, deep-sea fishing, and kayaking in the clear Caribbean waters. San Pedro, on Ambergris Caye, is also the place to party if you’re so inclined.
For those interested in thrills, there are zipline tours of the rainforest canopy on the mainland. These not only provide an adrenaline rush, they also give an unparalleled view of the jungle. Another type of adventure can be found underground. Guided tours allow visitors to float through huge caverns filled with gorgeous stalagmites and stalactites.
The mainland of Belize was once the heartland of the ancient Maya civilization. Here you’ll find some of the earliest ruins of their cities. The complex uncovered at Caracol encompassed more territory than Belize City does today. Lamanai, in the northern part of the country, is considered Mesoamerica’s longest continually occupied site.
It’s no wonder that Belize has become such a popular tourist destination, given all that there is to see and do here. But there is so much more than what’s mentioned in this post. To find out why so many people have fallen in love with this Caribbean gem, you must come to Belize for yourself.