Our yearly 2.5 percent

Our yearly 2.5 percent

Population growth should lead to economic growth. Belize’s population makes up about 0.01% of the world’s population. In 2022, an estimated 441,471 Belizeans were living at home. That number may seem incredibly small considering that our Central American neighbours have population sizes that reach into the millions. Even Jamaica, which is about 2.1 times smaller than Belize, has a population of about 2.8 million people. Why are we talking about population? Well, Belize’s population grows at about 2.5 percent each year and since 2010, we have already added an estimated 117,873 residents.  Globalization plays a huge role in how that number has grown- the growth affects our tourism potential. Population growth also affects job availability, consumer support for businesses, urbanization, and the kind of economic growth that can generate more revenue for social infrastructural projects. Sure, population increase poses opportunities as well as challenges. One obvious challenge is making sure that economic development moves along with the masses. Therefore, urban infrastructural planning is very important. Our tourism industry helps with that. The tourism industry includes sectors such as accommodation, transportation, retail, agriculture, environmental and healthcare. This web of multi-sector interconnectedness is what allows the Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Relations (MTDR) to directly invest in projects that speak to economic needs that arise from population growth. This week, most fittingly as people have exchanged their Valentine’s sentiments, the MTDR has extended its own bit of love across two sectors.

This week the health sector got a little love from the tourism industry. Belize City is still the largest city in the country in terms of population and economic significance. With the stewardship of Hon. Anthony Mahler, the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) and the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to address some much needed repairs and renovations to the Accident and Emergency Department at the hospital. The MOU might as well be an understanding of love since the $600,000 pledge, that the BTB has made, will help the facility meet its mandate to serve Belize and its growing populace. The KHMH was built and inaugurated back in 1995 when Belize’s population was a little over two hundred thousand. That number has more than doubled since then. Minister Mahler believes that “…ongoing global challenges, remind us of the paramount importance of prioritizing the health and safety of our people and those who choose Belize as their destination”. KHMH is Belize’s primary healthcare institution and the MOU is a merger of Tourism and Healthcare as well as social infrastructure and economic growth.

Entrepreneurship transcends industry boundaries. It is about business, risk, and innovation. The Mahogany Street Reserve Project was also inaugurated this week. A collaboration between the BTB and the Belize City Council brought this project to fruition. Its aim is to support local vendors through fostering community development. From the colourful, uniformly built shops that neatly line Mahogany Street, twenty-five resident entrepreneurs will sell their products to locals and tourists. This project was built with the intention of attracting more traffic and economic activity to the area within a value chain that includes producers, retailers, and consumers.

This week, the KHMH and Mahogany Street got some economic love- not the cheap kind. The new MOU will fix some old infrastructural problems to address future health demands while The Mahogany Street Reserve Project addresses some of the growing needs of residents. Our yearly 2.5 percent population increase adds new opportunities and challenges. The BTB will continue to meet both of them with collaborative and sustainable projects.

Chat again later.

Jasmine Anderson
For the Belize Tourism Board