NEW ICEX SURVEY UNDERLINES GROWTH DRIVERS IN CENTRAL AMERICA

A study by ICEX (2016) reveals that since 2011, development in the sector of tourism in the region of Central America has increased significantly.

Although this development is uneven between different countries that make up the isthmus, none of the countries saw a drop in the number of tourists thanks to the diversity of landscapes, climates and cultures that these countries offer.

The arrival of new airlines, the development of the region, the wide choice of entertainment and unique cultural experiences are primarily the explanations for this positive development.

In recent years, Central American countries have committed themselves to promoting tourism and increasing the number of arrivals of foreign visitors in different parts of the region.

In the Nicaragua, according to the “tourist survey for the third quarter of 2016”, and a report prepared by the Central Bank of the country, the average length of stay for a tourist there is now about 9 days, and the destination is mainly for family holidays.

In Panama, official services have provided figures showing that tourism in this country increased by 7% between January and September 2016 compared to the same period in 2015. Average spending per visitor during the first 9 months of the year saw an increase amounting to about 6% (July being the month that saw the amount most important rise.

The same positive trend was registered in Belize, with a 16% increase in inbound travellers from January to September 2016 according to the Minister of Civil Aviation and Culture industry, Manuel Heredia Junior. This increase is reported to be due to the great attractiveness of the destination, but also the significant efforts undertaken by the country to improve its entire infrastructure and the development of urban facilities and services in the hotel industry.

Meanwhile in Costa Rica, air remains the means of transport the most regularly used by tourists to reach the country. The figures given by the General Directorate of Migration and Alien Citizens (the DGME) and analysed by the Institute of tourism (ICT) Costa Rica, establish that 7 out of 10 people arrive in the territory via an airport, where traffic recorded a increase of 16.8% in January and June of last year, compared to the previous period.

Guatemala’s tourism sector saw a more moderate increase over these past years, due in large part to the economic squeeze in that country. However, in their study “The Guatemala Tourist Market”, ICEX explains that Guatemala is now the second fastest evolving country in the isthmus after the Panama.

According to a study published by the Market Intelligent Unit, the number of foreign tourists visiting El Salvador has increased by 1.7% between January and June 2016 with regard to 2015. Their goal is for this increase to continue in order to reach 2 million visitors by the end of the year.

Finally, the Honduras has for its part seen a thriving return to the tourism sector through the promotion of the country’s breathtaking beauty. The Director of the Honduran Institute of Tourism (IHT) Emilio Silvestri makes a point of honour that the year ended on a 6% increase, amounting to more than $770 million growth.