Tourism in Central America Loses Strength

In 2018, the number of international tourists who arrived in the countries of the region fell 2% compared to 2017, in contrast to the increases of 4% and 3% recorded in North and South America, respectively.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

According to the report of the World Tourism Organization (WTO) presented on January 21, the results recorded last year in Central America are partly because of behavior in some countries, as in the cases of Panama and Nicaragua were recorded declines in tourism.

The UNWTO statement notes that "... The Americas (+3%) received 217 million international arrivals in 2018, with mixed results in all destinations. Growth was led by North America (+4%) and followed by South America (+3%), while Central America and the Caribbean (both -2%) had very mixed results."

Days ago, Panamanian authorities reported that in 2018 there were 141,000 fewer tourists than in 2017, as the number of visitors who came to the country in the last two years declined from 5,759,280 to 5,617,948.

See "Tourist Arrivals Close 2018 Downwards"

Tourist companies in Nicaragua reported difficulties last year, since the political crisis the country has been going through since April 2018 has caused multiple losses for the sector. According to the latest report from the Central Bank, last October there was a 22% year-on-year drop in the economic activity of hotels and restaurants.

Not everything was a setback in the region, since in the case of El Salvador good numbers were recorded. According to the Ministry of Tourism, foreign exchange generated in 2018 totaled $1.417 million, 12.7% more than what was reported in 2017, and the number of tourists who arrived in the country increased from 2.2 million to 2.5 million for the years concerned.

Also see "Optimism for Tourism in El Salvador"

Regarding the outlook for global tourism identified by UNWTO for 2019, positive aspects such as the more stable oil price, better air connectivity and strong demand from emerging emitting markets are highlighted.

The risks foreseen for the sector are an economic slowdown, geopolitical and commercial tensions, uncertainty for investors and travelers.

See UNWTO report and results presentation.

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More on this topic

Fewer Tourists Arriving in Dominican Republic

November 2019

Between January and October 2018 and the same period in 2019, the number of tourists who arrived in the country reported a 1.2% drop, which contrasts with the increases recorded years ago.

The cumulative arrival of non-resident visitors by area in the period January-October 2019 shows a total of 5,359,903 travelers, for a -1.2% variation over the same period last year, equivalent to a decrease of 64,496 tourists, reported the Central Bank.

Tourism in Costa Rica: Lights and Shadows

March 2019

Although between 2017 and 2018 the average spending of tourists in Costa Rica fell 14%, businessmen estimate that the country has the capacity to absorb more demand.

Figures from the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT) specify that in the last two years the average expenditure made by tourists who arrive in the country decreased by $226, going from $1,561 in 2017 to $1,335 in 2018, and the stay per person remains around 12 nights.

Tourism in El Salvador: $1.532 Million in 2018

March 2019

Last year, the daily average expenditure of tourists decreased 8% over 2017, but the average stay increased from 6.2 to 7.5 nights.

In 2018, every tourist who visited the country spent an average of $113 per day, slightly below the $123 reported as average daily spending in 2017. This decrease was offset by the increase in the average stay, resulting in a total of $1.532 million generated by this activity throughout the year.

Million-dollar Losses for Tourism

February 2019

Because of the crisis affecting the country since April last year, it is estimated that during 2018 the losses of the Nicaraguan tourism sector totaled $440 million, and more than 62 thousand jobs disappeared.

The arrival of tourists to the country is another figure reporting a considerable decline last year, since between 2017 and 2018 the number of visitors who came to Nicaragua fell 55%, going from 1.7 million to 800 thousand.

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