I’ve seen Belize in two public reports lately. One was the World Happiness Report published by The Earth Institute at Columbia University, and the other is CNN Go’s “World’s 10 Most Hated Cities.” They’re both pretty enlightening…if slightly different in scope and scale.

The World Happiness Report is a pretty laborious 170-page document. You can download it here, if you’d like to read it for yourself. The navigation is annoying because the charts are embedded, so it won’t let you CTRL-F and just find the country you’re looking for. So I’ll save you the trouble and tell you that the rank ordering of countries is on page 36. It also doesn’t list them numerically. If you’d like to know how Uruguay fared…you’ll have to count your way down the list.

At any rate, Belize is the 34th happiest country in the world. So at least the Belizeans like it. Foreign tourists seem to feel differently. According to CNN, it rates as #10 on the list of places that are overhyped. The article is short, so I’ll just reprint it.

Few tropical outposts less than a three-hour flight from Dallas have spawned as many alluring Sunday travel section taglines as Belize — a diving and cruise ship magnet that has been dubbed “Central America Lite,” “the otherCaribbean” and “the gateway to the world’s second largest barrier reef.”

With all that warm press and tourist traffic passing through, you’d expect Belize City to have kicked its nagging reputation as the sorriest port o’ call on either edge of the Caribbean.

Crime. Drugs. Dilapidation. Welcoming committees of bored, desperate touts. A vibe that screams avoid-being-out-after-dark-and-wait-for-your-real-itinerary-to-begin. Belize City has it all.

When your own Director of Tourism owns that Belize’s main transport hub is “consistently rated as the worst destination” among cruise passengers, something more than the city’s famous swing bridge may need adjusting.

Until then, it’s full speed to the puddle jumpers and water taxis.

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