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Sustainable Tourism, The Commitment to Change Social and Economic Realities in Central America

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Cervecería Centroamericana S.A.
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The Central American region received 24.5 million visitors in 2023, compared to 21.5 million in 2019.

Sustainable and strategically thought-out tourism “can change and give a turn to the social and economic situations of a country,” said the general secretary of the Central American Tourism Promotion Agency (CATA), Boris Iraheta, in an interview.

The general secretary of CATA also said that the region is in its “best moment.” The tourism sector of the countries with an area of ​​522,762 square kilometers that unites North and South America, which has managed to recover after the pandemic.

The Central American region received 24.5 million visitors in 2023, compared to 21.5 million in 2019, the year before the COVID-19 pandemic that wreaked havoc on Central American economies.

Strategically Thought Tourism

Iraheta assured from San Salvador that “strategically thought tourism, thought from economic, social and environmental sustainability can change and can give a turn to the economic and social situation of a country.”

CATA is an entity that belongs to the Central American Integration System (SICA) and that promotes the entire region as a tourist destination. The countries that make up this agency are Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, and the Dominican Republic.

There is, according to the secretary general of CATA, a “change in perception regarding security” of the countries, as in the case of El Salvador, which combined with the various tourist destinations offered by the nations, makes the region compete with other destinations in the world.

For this reason, he pointed out, sustainable tourism “is an activity that must be committed to,” but he emphasized that it must be done “in an orderly and strategic manner, that is, thinking right now about the starting point of every tourism plan in the world.” based on environmental, economic and social sustainability.

“This approach does help to derive requisition because we think about how to be sustainable the tourist destination for the populations that live there, how we are going to train people so that they stay working in the sector (…) and how we are going to integrate everyone the actors,” he explained.

He recalled that the largest number of companies that operate in the tourism sector in the region are micro and small businesses, which in turn rely on local people involved in this activity. “Countries are betting much more on tourism, they are seeing it positively, with greater integration for a new tourism,” he said.

A Model Similar to Europe, Of Free Circulation

He assured that “Central America is easy to circulate, it is conducive to multi-destination, although the challenge today is to improve this connectivity, to make circulation through countries like in Europe easier. We must look, he pointed out, at a model similar to Europe, of free circulation.”

Iraheta highlighted that Central America combines “the sun and beach of the Caribbean and the Pacific, with the Mayan World of archaeological and cultural tourism, and nature tourism.” “It is a unique destination in the world. Isthmus that forms a bridge between the Caribbean and the Pacific, between north and south (of America),” he added.

Recently, the countries of the region presented their tourism offers in San Salvador to representatives of airlines, businessmen, and tourists, in an event in which CATA, the Federation of Tourism Chambers of Central America, and the Salvadoran Ministry of Tourism were involved.

It was the Central American Travel Market 2024 fair, the most important event in the region due to its ability to bring together key players in the sector, which included the participation of senior officials from the governments of the region and representatives of the tourism sector willing to promote tourism from Central America and the Dominican Republic, according to the organizers. (https://thecostaricanews.com/sustainable-tourism-the-commitment-to-change-social-and-economic-realities-in-central-america/)

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