SOUTH AMERICA LEADS THE CHARGE IN REGIONAL TOURISM

The first half of 2018 has seen a rise of 3% in inbound tourism in the Americas, following on from an overall increase of 3% in 2017, according to figures released by UNWTO.

Growth is led by South America, where international arrivals increased 8% this early part of 2018. Ecuador (+57%) and Colombia (+48%) both reported a surge in arrivals, building on already strong results in 2017. Peru (+23%) also posted remarkable growth.

Central America recorded 6% growth, with Belize (+19%) and El Salvador (+13%) driving results. Growth in Guatemala (+6%) was in line with the subregion’s average, while Honduras recorded a 5% increase. Costa Rica, the subregion’s largest destination, grew 4%.

The Caribbean (-9%) experienced a decrease in arrivals this period, weighed down by negative results in a few destinations that are still struggling with the effects of the hurricanes of August and September 2017.

In North America (+4%), Mexico (+10%) led growth in international arrivals, while Canada (+4%) grew in line with the subregion’s average. Data from the United States for 2018 is still unavailable.

Overall, in 2017, the Americas welcomed 207 million international tourists, with most destinations enjoying solid results, led by South America (+7%). Central America and the Caribbean both grew 4%, with the latter showing clear signs of recovery in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria. In North America (+2%), robust results in Mexico and Canada contrasted with a decrease in the United States, the region’s largest destination. The decline in arrivals to the United States also weighed down the region’s average.

In South America (+7%), the growth momentum continued in 2017, led by Paraguay (+25% through September) and Colombia (+23%), the latter boasting its fourth straight year of double-digit growth. Uruguay (+21%) continued to bene t from promotional actions in bordering source markets and tax-free bene ts for tourists. Chile and Ecuador both recorded 14% growth in arrivals last year. Ecuador rebounded from weak results in 2016 due to the earthquake that hit the country’s central coast.

Central America recorded a 4% increase in arrivals in 2017, led by Nicaragua (+22%), which is enjoying strong demand from regional markets. Guatemala (+9%), Belize and El Salvador (both +8%) also posted solid growth. Honduras recorded 3% more arrivals, a similar increase as in 2016. Results in top destination Costa Rica (+1%) were more modest due to a decline in visitors from the United States, while Panama reported 12% fewer arrivals.

In 2017, tourism receipts were up 1% on the previous year in the Americas. The United States continued to be the world’s top international tourism earner, with US$ 211 bn in tourism receipts in 2017.