The seven small countries of Central America are still in demand, although tourism growth in 2018 was not as vigorous as in previous years. The Central America Tourism Agency (CATA) welcomes the growing importance of the European market for these seven small countries, located on the isthmus between Mexico and Colombia. Speaking at ITB Berlin, CATA Secretary General Carolina Briones pointed out: “Europe now has an eleven per cent share of the total market.”
Tourism officials in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama are, of course, aware that Europeans stay longer and their expenditure is relatively high. The most important of the continent’s source countries are Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Italy. Briones is pleased to note a significant improvement in air links with Europe in recent years.
According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), in 2018 some 10.9 million tourists visited Central America, which is 2.3 per cent fewer than in 2017. In most cases the figures recorded by CATA are considerably higher, because they include short visits in the course of local cross-border traffic between neighbouring countries.
The smallest country in Central America has been among the main beneficiaries. During 2018 Belize recorded a total of 489.261 incoming tourists, a sharp rise of 14.6 per cent. This means that tourism numbers have doubled over the past ten years. Costa Rica continues to lead the field.
For the past 16 years CATA has been marketing the seven countries of Central America internationally as a multiple destination. At ITB Berlin the region is promoting itself with its historic Mayan palaces, colonial towns, volcanoes, palm-lined beached on the Atlantic and the Pacific, and with lush vegetation and exotic wildlife in the jungles, as well as numerous nature reserves.
On their stands all these destinations are also offering their own typical regional attractions and specialities. Coffee and rum can be sampled each day on the Guatemalan stand, along with an ethnic dance troupe. Nicaragua’s attractions include its own typical confectionery, as well as live music at the weekend. Panama is offering its guests all kinds of delights from coffee to cocktails. Artists from the indigenous EmberáQuerá community are attending in person to present their paintings.
Central America/CATA Hall 22.b
Press contact: Julia Thiemann, KPRN network GmbH
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photo credit: Visit Panama