Monday, March 16, 2009

Tourism Can Minimize Effects of Global Crisis in Central America

Tourism cannot escape being affected by the global economic crisis, but Central America continued to show growth of visitors in 2008 based on both regional and local strategies, as was shown at the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) to the Convention of International Tourism, held in Berlin, Germany.

In 2008 there was an increase of two percent in the influx of tourists around the world and in Latin America, Central America was the region ranked highest in income growth from tourism, even higher than Northern South America, which reported an increase of 5.9 percent.

According to data from the Central American Tourism Agency (CATA), with headquarters in Madrid, about 8.2 million visitors came to the region.

Central America offers itself to tourists as both a single product and as individual countries that complement each other.

From the cultural and archaeological tourism represented by Guatemala to Panama on business, are clear examples of how each country has their own potential to be offered to the international market along with all of Central America.

This assertion is supported by the statistics of the Spanish airline Iberia, which in 2008 transported 290,000 passengers to Central America, 14 percent more than in 2007.

The Dutch airline, KLM, also increased its flights between Amsterdam and Panama from three to five per week.

Central America is clear that the global crisis is an opportunity in the field of tourism. The main strategy is to strengthen regional tourism and to provide added value to all products offered, with the goal that every dollar spent by a visitor receives highest quality in every respect.

In addition, the United States represents the main market for tourism to this region. Although it is in recession, tourism operators are confident that Americans who have traveled long distances before will now come the much shorter distance to Central America.

In Guatemala, tourism generated revenues of more than U.S. $208 million in the first two months of 2009, representing an increase of 2.9 percent over the same months in 2008, according to data from Inguat.

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