El Salvador among top tourist destinations in Latin America

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By LatAm Reports Staff Writers

Only surpassed by Belize and Panama, El Salvador has the third largest share of tourism as a proportion of GDP.

El Salvador is the third country in Latin America where the travel and tourism sector has the greatest participation of the economy, highlights a report published Tuesday by the World Council of Travel and Tourism (WTTC).

The tourism industry mobilizes other sectors, such as food, accommodation, transport and recreational services. The WTTC, which gathers official information, says it left about $4.95 billion in the Salvadoran economy at the end of 2023, between revenue from international arrivals and domestic tourism.

These contributions represented 14.5 per cent of the estimated Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for 2023.

The country is surpassed only by Belize, where tourism accounts for 30.8 percent of GDP, and Panama, which has a contribution of 15.2 %. After the Salvadoran economy are Mexico and Uruguay, with 14.4 per cent of GDP, respectively.

Contribution of the travel and tourism sector in the economy

  • Mexico: 14.4 %
  • Brazil: 7.7 %
  • Argentina: 8.8 %
  • Chile: 9.7 %
  • Peru: 6.8 %
  • Colombia: 4.7 %
  • Venezuela: 6.6 %
  • Panama: 15.2 %
  • Uruguay: 14.4 %
  • Costa Rica: 9.3 %
  • Ecuador: 4.6 %
  • Guatemala: 5.4 %
  • El Salvador: 14.5 %
  • Honduras: 10.5 %
  • Bolivia: 5.2 %
  • Paraguay: 4.7 %
  • Nicaragua: 9.9 %
  • Belize: 30.8 %
  • Guyana: 2.3 %
  • Suriname: 2.3 %

The Salvadoran Tourism Corporation (Corsatur) reports that the activity of international tourism grew by 2.7 times as a contribution of GDP in the last decade, from 4 % in 2013 to 11 per cent in 2023.

After a decade-long retreat, the tourism sector began an accelerated recovery of the 2020 bump due to the covine-19 pandemic. At the end of 2023, the number of international arrivals reached a record high of 3.3 million people who entered the country for tourism purposes, 31 per cent growth compared to 2022 or 40 per cent compared to 2019.

According to Corsatur, spending by international tourists left the economy just over $3.665 million.

Tourism takes off in Latin America

The WTTC report, prepared in collaboration VFS Global, noted that the travel and tourism sector in Latin America will contribute nearly $260 billion to the economy and create nearly eight million new jobs over the next 10 years.

At the end of 2023, the sector contributed more than $62 billion to the Latin American economy after receiving 86 million international travelers. The industry represented a livelihood for 24.6 million people, 9 per cent of employment in the region.

The sector has been an extraordinary transformation, said Julia Simpson, CEO of the WTTC.

“The countries of the region need better transport infrastructure, simplified visa processes, better protection of biodiversity and nature, and effective marketing campaigns to highlight the wealth of the destinations of this vibrant region,” he said.

According to the WTTC, El Salvador is expected to grow at an annual rate of 1.9% in the next 10 years, lower than its Central American peers, where Costa Rica will lead with 5.3 percent and Honduras with 4.9 percent.

This article has been translated after first appearing in Diario El Mundo