Edited by Paulo A.L.D. Nunes, Pushpam Kumar and Tom Dedeurwaerdere
Chapter 3: Cruising for a bruising: challenges in sustainable capture of ecosystem service values from cruise ship tourism in Belize
Over the last several decades, Belize has built an international reputation for small-scale, nature and cultural tourism, widely known as 'ecotourism'. Ecotourism holds the promise of providing a nature-based solution to a country's economic development challenges by facilitating local capture of the valuable ecosystem services it nurtures. Since 2000, the cruise industry has also put down roots in Belize, and today cruise tourism is widely viewed as a permanent part of the country's tourism landscape. Beginning in 2002, cruise passenger numbers surpassed stayover visitors and, in 2010, more than 3.2 cruise passengers arrived for every stayover visitor (TEEB, 2010). From 2000 to 2005 in fact, Belize was the fastest growing cruise market in the Caribbean. Today, there are indications that cruise visitor numbers may have peaked and tapered off somewhat, but the sector remains vitally important to ongoing development efforts. The Belize government, like others in Central America and the Caribbean, is faced with choices about how best to use resources in the service of the country's tourism development. This study is intended to provide data and analysis to inform local decision-making and to illustrate an approach to facilitating better management of ecosystem services through their improved measurement. Globally, both 'experiential' forms of tourism (including ecotourism) and cruise tourism are growing rapidly (UNWTO, 2001). In Belize, perhaps more than anywhere else in either region, cruise tourism is competing with and in some instances colliding with ecotourism.
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