For the past seven years tourism in the seven small countries of Central America has been constantly expanding. Europe is becoming an increasingly important market for tourists to these countries, exhibitors at ITB Berlin reported. More than 11.1 million tourists visited the region in 2017, just under 3.7 per cent more than in the previous year, according to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). The Central America Tourism Agency (CATA) registered a substantially higher figure, which includes short visits involving cross-border travel between the neighbouring countries.
As the Secretary General of CATA, Carolina Briones, pointed out: “Since 2011 all the countries of the region have seen a constant rise in visitor numbers.” Central America is set for even more success. Briones: “We expect 2018 to be another record year. “The European market is becoming increasingly important, with Spain, Germany, the UK, France and Italy being the top five source countries. Costa Rica remains the most popular destination among the ‘dwarfs’, attracting over three million tourists.
For Andreas Gross, chairman of the Latin America Working Group, the region provides ”the perfect mix, located between two great oceans, on the tropical isthmus linking North and South America. Each of these countries is a destination in its own right. In combination with one or more neighbouring countries this region is hard to beat.” Gross reported that flights from Europe are improving all the time, with direct connections from Madrid to Panama, Costa Rica and Guatemala, and from this autumn, to Nicaragua as well.
The Panamericana highway is a good and safe way to travel in six countries of the region, but it does not pass through Belize. In Darien, at its southern end, it terminates in the in the swamps of the Panamanian jungle. “Adventurous travellers have to cross the border to Colombia by traversing rivers and tracks in the style of Indiana Jones.” This is not without its dangers. From Colombia this dream highway continues further south.
For an authentic and first hand experience of Nicaragua travellers can visit one of the many ‘Puntos de Vida’, explains Immanuel Zerger from Solentiname Tours. One such example is that of the Hernandez family of campesinos in the district close to the Cerro Negro volcano near Leon. The basic farmhouse with its draw wells is run by a single mother and her two sons.
They grow groundnuts, beans, rice and citrus fruits to meet their own needs. The sons are also active as volunteers with the ‘National System’ for prevention and disaster aid in the event of tectonic movements or even a volcanic eruption. As Zerger points out: “A visit enables tourists to find out how 60 per cent of the rural population of Nicaragua live.”
The Central America Tourism Agency has been marketing the seven Central American countries internationally as a multiple destination for the past 15 years. More than 100 exhibitors from the seven countries are in Berlin to promote historic Mayan palaces, colonial cities, volcanoes, some of which are still active, palm-lined beaches on the Atlantic and the Pacific, and jungles with lush exotic flora and fauna, as well as numerous nature reserves.
Press contact: Valerie von Oppeln
Telephone: + 49 172 622 83 38
Hall 22b / Stand 206
Press contact: Immanuel Zerger
Telephone: +505 8756 0393