Belize Tourism Booming in 2019

Belize tourism continues to fuel one of the fastest-growing real estate markets in the Caribbean

The rapidly growing island town of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Belize on the International Radar

Nestled along the turquoise Caribbean coast of Central America, the young English-speaking country of Belize is flourishing with international interest. Belize tourism stats reach new highs year after year, now with up to 50,000 visitors arriving by the month! Savvy North American real estate investors, entrepreneurs, and retirees are descending upon this laid-back tropical paradise that’s making history. Read on to discover why Belize just might have the change of pace you’ve been looking for.

A summary of Belize’s astounding year after year tourism growth from 2011 – 2017. Image courtesy of Belize Tourism Board.

While tourism nationwide in Belize is increasing, the lion’s share of foreign and domestic investment is happening in the island paradise of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. In San Pedro, the real estate market growth is apparent everywhere you look, from the brand new Maya Air airport terminal (2019) to the inaugural arrival of international luxury hotel brands such as Marriott (2018) and Hilton (2017).

Why Belize?

People travel from far and wide to experience Belize’s untouched natural beauty from the rainforest to the reef. Ever since the Belize Barrier Reef piqued the interest of a few rogue divers in the 1980s, there has been a steady annual increase in visitors. But that’s not surprising! Belize is just a few hours from the U.S., and it enjoys a tropical climate, impressive eco-diversity, and a lower cost of living than most metropolitan areas in North America. Here’s our shortlist of why Belize should be on your bucket list!

  • Natural paradise — Belize is unspoiled and still relatively undeveloped, rich in natural beauty and unique geography. Belize has reef, rainforest, jungle, farmland, mountains, caves, rivers, waterfalls, and more than 400 low-lying islands called cayes (“keys”).
  • Rich history — Modern-day Belize was the heart of ancient Maya civilization, and today visitors can get up close and personal with ruins of Maya temples, stone cities, and even skeletons and artifacts in deep underground ritual caves. There are several other more modern culturally-rich groups that call Belize home today, notably the Garifuna and Mennonites.
  • Warm climate — Belize enjoys a warm and tropical climate year-round with an average high of 86°F / 30°C, with lows rarely dipping below 70°F / 21° C.
  • Caves — Belize has the largest concentration of caves and underground rivers in Central America. Cave tubing and cave hiking / swimming are amazing means of exploring these natural geographic wonders!
  • Diving — Diving was where Belize’s tourism got its start, and Belize continues to rank in the world’s best snorkeling and diving spots year after year. The most recognizable dive spot is UNESCO World Heritage site the Great Blue Hole. If you’re an especially adventurous diver, Belize is full of other largely unexplored underwater cave systems.
  • Snorkeling — If you’re not quite ready to take the underwater plunge or perhaps you are traveling with kids, the snorkeling in Belize is also superb thanks to the excellent visibility and warm shallow, marine life-rich waters inside the Belize Barrier Reef. Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley are world-renowned for offering some of the best snorkeling animal encounters — think friendly nurse sharks! Both protected sites are located just minutes offshore of southeast Ambergris Caye.
  • Friendly people — Belize has some of the friendliest people in the world. Seriously! Belizeans are inherently happy people who love to laugh and interact with people from all over. Ask anyone who has been to Belize and they will tell you that the warm welcome of Belizean people is unparalleled!
  • Convenience — More Americans live closer to Belize than Hawaii! Miami to Belize City is a 2-hour flight.
  • Food — If fresh seafood and plentiful exotic fruits and spices is your style, Belize will not disappoint! San Pedro has a rich culinary scene that is growing year after year with new international restaurants and most recently the island’s very first vegan restaurant!
  • English — Since Belize was a former British colony, the official language is English. But most everyone speaks Spanish as well (and English Creole)!
  • U.S. Dollar — Belize uses the Belize dollar that tracks the U.S. dollar 2:1. However, U.S. dollars are widely accepted nationwide. (But leave your American coins at home as they are not accepted in Belize!)

Besides Belize’s natural beauty and conveniences, there are other specific and compelling reasons that make Belize an excellent choice for REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT:

  • T-8 Tax Haven — Belize has no capital gains tax, no estate tax, very low property tax, and 3% income tax on rental income generated.
  • British Common Law — Thanks to Belize’s history as a British colony, the country inherited both English as an official language as well as full ownership rights for foreigners. That’s right, unlike places like Mexico, international investors can own property in their own name.
  • Strong rental income — Belize’s booming tourism means strong rental income for real estate investors interested in generating a return from their asset.

Tourism Demographics

So who is coming to Belize? According to Belize Tourism Board’s 2017 summary report, 86% of people arriving in Belize had never been to Belize before. Travelers and expat residents in Belize are mostly (~80%) North Americans from the U.S. and Canada. The Americans are mostly arriving from Texas, California, New York, Florida, Colorado, and Illinois. The remaining 20% of Belize tourists hail from Latin America and Europe. The expat population who have chosen to live in Belize parallels these demographics.

A typical snapshot of Belize tourism — Ambergris Caye leads with the greatest number of tourists in April 2019. Image courtesy of BTB.

How Tourism Affects Real Estate

In a nutshell, here’s a general picture of direct and indirect influences on real estate values in a developing tourism market: Tourism growth —> Greater Demand for Accommodations —> Rising Occupancy Rates —> New Hotel and Condo Development —> Better Infrastructure —> Improvement in Availability of Goods and Services —> Rising Real Estate Values

As tourism numbers continue to grow, so does the demand for overnight accommodations and vacation rentals. And as more travelers fall in love with Belize, more and more expats end up choosing Belize to retire and relocate. The majority of foreign residents in Belize live part-time elsewhere, and use their real estate for income while they are away!

Ambergris Caye commands the highest average nightly room rates in Belize. Image courtesy of BTB.

The Golden Era for Belize Investment is HAPPENING NOW

Here is a handful of telltale signs that point to why it’s high time to buy into Belize’s rapidly growing real estate market:

Belize Leads the Caribbean in Tourism Growth

How does Belize tourism growth compare to other Caribbean destinations? In 2017, Belize had the second highest percentage (10.8%) increase in overnight arrivals over the year prior. That same year, St. Lucia secured the highest tourism increase with just .2% higher at 11%. Trailing behind was the Cayman Islands at an 8.5% increase.

Interested in Belize Real Estate? We’d Love to Talk to You!

Every year Belize’s identity continues to evolve. It’s a real estate market that we are fortunate to be a part of in this exciting time in the country’s history. We look forward to sharing our enthusiasm for Belize with you and assisting you with the important decisions that come with real estate investment.

If you have interest in a tropical lifestyle upgrade with passive income as a perk, look no further than Belize!

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