Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tourism Up According to Inguat

Although several European countries and North America have alerted their citizens not to visit Guatemala, which they consider dangerous, last January, the records indicate a 4 percent increase in the number of tourists.

Guillermo Novielli, deputy director of the Guatemalan Institute of Tourism (Inguat) reported that last month that 177,196 foreigners entered the country, while in January of 2008 169,362 did so. These figures include visits in connection with tourism and business, among other activities.

According to Inguat, an aggressive marketing plan launched yesterday will allow Guatemala to attract 1.8 million tourists, 400,000 from the U.S., and $1 billion in foreign exchange during 2009. Sandra Monterroso, director of marketing at Inguat, said the advertising campaign includes promotion of seven areas focusing on the culture of the indigenous Mayan archeological ruins of the Peten, woodlands, and beaches of the Pacific and Caribbean.

"The world crisis can generate a great opportunity because many U.S. travelers that would go to Europe can no longer afford to do so. Then Guatemala can be your destination because it's less expensive.," said the director of Inguat, Roberto Robles.

The promotional plan will cost about $10 million and aims to attract tourists from Central America, North America, Europe.

Regarding visitor security, in the past year there were 40 incidents involving foreign visitors, which is considered a low rate.

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