The Ministers of Tourism of the member countries of CATA have provided a complete overview of the region
The Ministers of Tourism of the member countries of the Central American Tourism Promotion Agency (CATA) have presented today within the framework of FITUR the novelties in the offer of these destinations for 2022 and their travel forecasts for the new season both for the Spanish issuing market and for other countries of the European Union.
The presentation was given by Carolina Briones, Secretary General of CATA, Iván Eskildsen, Minister of Tourism of Panama and President Pro Tempore of CATA, Mynor Cordón, Minister of Tourism of Guatemala, Nicole Marrder, Minister of Tourism of Honduras, Gustavo Alvarado , Minister of Tourism of Costa Rica, Jacqueline Mora, Technical Vice Minister of the Ministry of Tourism of the Dominican Republic, Mauricio Antonio Peñate Guzmán, Ambassador of the Republic of El Salvador, Carlos Midence, Ambassador of the Republic of Nicaragua, Carlos Umaña, President of the Federation of Chambers of Tourism of Central America (FEDECATUR) and Alejandro Varela, Deputy Director of the UNWTO Regional Program for the Americas.
During 2021, CATA intensified its actions with the purpose of offering a comprehensive response that would guarantee the strengthening of the industry and the regeneration of trust in travellers. The Agency arrives at FITUR 2022 with a firm commitment to promoting a transformed region open to international tourism with the best guarantees of health security. The member countries want to recover ground and strengthen their communication with the international market by promoting unique destinations, novelties, and opportunities for tourism in Central America and the Dominican Republic. Not in vain, in 2019, the countries that make up the region of the Central American Integration System (SICA), received 17.3 million tourists, plus 4.5 million cruise passengers, who contributed 20,000 million dollars to the economies of these countries.
In 2019, Europe accounted for almost 10% of the total visits to the region for Central American countries, reaching more than 1.6 million tourists. Spain was the first European source market with nearly 370,000 visitors, followed by France (367,000), Germany (344,000), the United Kingdom (293,000), Italy (170,000) and the Netherlands (115,000).
News of the season in the region In terms of health security, the CATA countries have implemented the most rigorous security standards and currently all countries have the Safe Travels seal of the WTTC – World Travel and Tourism Council. Restoring trips are one of the new products that have gained strength in the CATA countries. Closely linked to luxury tourism, a network of hotels in Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama offer an experience based on the principle of leaving a better place than they found, participating in local development and consumption projects, environmental protection and others.
During the pandemic, member countries developed and accelerated tourism digitization projects in the fields of health security, distance tourism training, virtual visits to museums or even immersive virtual reality experiences. Likewise, the pandemic has not stopped the development of new hotel projects in the region by groups such as Hyatt, Marriott and The Ritz-Carlton, among others. On an individual level, the member countries of CATA are facing the new season with their own projects and optimistic perspectives:
Panama It was recently included in the lists of ideal destinations to visit in 2022, by leading magazines such as Condé Nast Traveler, Travel & Leisure and Vogue. This year it will host important events such as the International Tourism Expo and the “Trips of Atonement and Reconciliation” event for the Afro-descendant community. For this year, the arrival of approximately 2.3 million tourists is expected, thanks to the country brand called “Live for More” that is aimed at promoting sustainable tourism and biodiversity. To serve these visitors, Panama is advancing with the expansion and remodeling of the Pacific International Airport (BLB), to the west of the Panamanian capital. The Panama Convention Center (PCC) has also recently been added with an investment of 200 million.
El Salvador It has been consolidated in recent years as a destination par excellence at an international level for the practice of Surfing. In its more than 300 kilometers of beach you can find 50 outstanding points for high-level competitive surfing. Among the most outstanding projects for 2022 is the upcoming inauguration of the expansion of the El Salvador San Oscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez International Airport, which has involved $45.3 million in investment. At the end of 2021, El Salvador recorded positive data regarding the recovery of tourism, reaching 1.4 million visitors and more than $1,600 million in foreign currency. According to CEPA data, during 2021 more than 2.5 million passengers were registered entering and leaving the country’s main air terminal, registering more than 29 thousand commercial flights,
Honduras Enjoys the privilege of having beautiful beaches, an impressive coral reef, a rich Mayan heritage, well-preserved colonial architecture and impressive mountains for adventure tourism. October 15 marked an important date in the air connectivity of Honduras, with the inauguration of the Palmerola International Airport, which will have the capacity to receive up to 13 aircraft simultaneously, operating 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. There are several airlines that will operate in the new airport, among them are: Aeroméxico, Volaris, Spirit Airlines, American Airlines, United Airlines, Avianca, among others. In addition, with the implementation of the new Law for the Promotion of Low-Cost Air Transport, Honduras intends to attract low-cost airlines by offering unbeatable operating costs so that tickets to and from Honduras can be reduced by up to 40%. Last Wednesday, the arrival of Spirit Airlines was confirmed as the first low-cost airline to fly to Palmerola airport.
Costa Rica It is an ideal destination for nature, adventure and conservation tourism in the region. It was awarded as the third most desired destination by world travelers in the outstanding Wanderlust Travel Awards 2021, it also received the award for the best leading destination in the Mexico and Central America region in the “World Travel Awards 2021”. Costa Rica has positioned itself as a model of success in its reopening to international tourism, since August 2020, having recovered more than 50% of its international visitors. From January to December 2021, 1,347,055 tourists visited the country. The United States continues to be the most important market with 868,986 visitors, while the main European issuing markets have been Spain with 41,857; Germany with 34,700; France with 32,199 and Switzerland with 21,643 visitors. Spain has positioned itself as the first European issuing market and second internationally, only behind the United States. Several companies have implemented new routes such as United Airlines and JetBlue. For its part, British Airways has returned after 18 months of suspended flights.
Guatemala Antigua Guatemala was listed as the best city for tourism in Central and South America by the World’s Best Awards 2021 survey. Guatemala also stands out for its nature, being one of the 19 megadiverse countries in the world. European tourism has gradually recovered its activity. Until October 2021, the total number of visitors to Europe was 36,153 with an average stay of 10.13 days and an average daily expenditure of USD 91.76, generating USD 28 million in foreign currency, according to data from the Department of Research and INGUAT Market Analysis. Regarding the Spanish market, 5,795 Spaniards visited the country with an average stay of 7.12 days, and an average expenditure of USD 78.06, generating around USD 2 million in foreign currency for the economy. For this season,
República Dominicana El país ha sido catalogado a nivel internacional como uno de los mejores destinos para reiniciar el turismo por lo que este año será la sede de la Cumbre Iberoamericana de Turismo Accesible. La República Dominicana registra un significativo control del Covid-19, que se ha traducido en una recuperación del 80% en la llegada de visitantes extranjeros no residentes entre junio y julio, con respecto a los mismos meses del 2020, y las reservas hoteleras para noviembre y diciembre, inicio de la temporada alta, ya superaron las del mismo período del 2018 y 2019 antes de la pandemia. Para consolidar esta recuperación, se ha iniciado un plan para impulsar la llegada de nuevos proyectos empresariales principalmente de inversión española. De hecho, la inversión se ha mantenido en los últimos tiempos con proyectos como la nueva terminal turística y de carga del puerto turístico Taíno Bay en Puerto Plata con una inversión de 80 millones de dólares, nuevos hoteles como el proyecto de Radisson Blu en Punta cana, o el parque temático de Falcon’s Creative Group.
Nicaragua Es un destino ideal para el turismo de aventura. Es un territorio único que integra los valores geológicos, estéticos y culturales para impulsar el turismo sostenible, prueba de ello es el Río Coco, el primer geoparque mundial de la UNESCO en Centroamérica con un concepto holístico de protección, educación y desarrollo sostenible. Además, este país ha posicionado como uno de sus casos de éxito las diferentes actividades de aventura como el sandboarding en algunos de sus volcanes o bien apreciar lagos de lava incandescente. Para 2022, se ha anunciado el inicio del gran proyecto de construcción de la Carretera Costanera que unirá toda la Costa Pacífico entre los departamentos de Rivas, Carazo y Granada. Este año será claramente un año de recuperación de la actividad con los mercados prioritarios de Europa: España, Reino Unido y Alemania. Las principales compañías aéreas que operan con este destino han confirmado su actividad para este año, notablemente Avianca desde San Salvador y Miami, Aeroméxico desde México, Copa Airlines desde Panamá, Conviasa desde Cuba, Air Century desde República Dominicana y Aruba desde Cuba.
Belize It has managed to position itself as 1 of the 10 best countries to travel in the Best Travel 2022 list, prepared by Lonely Planet. The country reopened its tourist activity very gradually with a control of arrivals through the Open Health application. In this reopening framework, new American Airlines flights have been confirmed with a new non-stop service that connects Los Angeles with Belize City. Likewise, Copa Airlines will reconnect Panama/Tocumen (PTY) and Belize (BZE) as of June 2, after having suspended its operations in March 2020 as a result of the current pandemic. Belize has also reopened its activity for international cruises.