This weekend sees the opening of the 11th Central America Travel Market, this year held in San Salvador. The event welcomes more than 100 European wholesalers to the destination to discuss Central American travel opportunities for the coming year. Eleanor Hawkins drops in to find out more for Breaking Travel News.
The Secretariat of Central American Tourism Integration, together with the tourism authorities of the seven Central American countries - Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama - have conducted a study on the evolution of the tourism sector in the region over the past twelve years and made a positive forecast of expected 6.1 per cent growth for this year based on the results.
Cruising is on the up in Central America and is expected to continue to grow this year. A total of 2,394,000 cruise passengers arrived during last season (October 2012 to May 2013); an increase of 15 per cent compared to the previous year, according to data released by the Secretariat of Central America Tourism Integration.
Central America was a big hit with European visitors in 2012 according to new figures released by the ministries of tourism of the seven Central American countries. In total Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama - received 832,567 European visitors last year, an increase of nearly 16 per cent when compared to the previous year.
Several major international companies are investing on new hotels in Central America, including AM Resorts, Hard Rock, Trust Hospitality and Hilton Worldwide. The region continues to improve its hotel infrastructure thanks to this kind of investment from major international chains, adding to its tourism offering of great beaches, nature and ancient cultures.
Central America is becoming an increasingly popular host destination for major events as the region continues to improve its conference and meetings infrastructure. Two new conference centres are currently under construction in Costa Rica and Panama, to add to the region’s existing offering of hotels and conference centres equipped with the latest technology to make every event a success.
Central America received a total of 9,577,114 foreign visitors during the first ten months of 2011, according to preliminary data provided by the ministries of tourism of Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. While this figure is similar to the one registered in the same period in 2010, there is a remarkable increase in the number of European visitors, with British visitors up by seven per cent, from 79,995 in 2010 to 85,305 in 2011, January to October.
Ministers of tourism from the seven Central American countries – Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama – have unveiled the region’s tourism strategy for 2012 at the VIII Central America Travel Market (CATM) in Panama. At the event, 2012 was declared “The Year of Sustainable Tourism” for Central America.