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fell 95% in January 2021

International tourism is unable to recover despite. (Photo, Free Press: Hemeroteca PL).

Data from the Bank of Guatemala (Banguat), cited by Fundesa, refer that in January of this year US $ 3.76 million entered for the concept of tourism and travel.

The data represents a foreign exchange loss during January of US $ 86.4 million, compared to the US $ 90.2 million reported last year, said Fernando Spross, an analyst at Fundesa.

According to the Guatemalan Tourism Institute (Inguat) in January 2021, 45,537 visitors entered, of which 87% were tourists and 13% were hikers.

In January 2020 there were 240,021 visitors, so « this year there is a decrease of -81% and therefore there is no region that shows an increase » according to this Inguat classification: North America (-60%), Central America (-30%), Europe – (5%), South America (-4%) and Rest of the World 0%, added the entity.

The entity stated that 6 out of 10 visitors come from Central America, especially El Salvador, a country that represents the largest number of tourists that Guatemala receives, with a participation of 32%. It is followed by the United States with 25% and Honduras, 21%.

They see it necessary to create and execute an action plan

Spross commented that the tourism and accommodation sector are still experiencing the impact of reduced travel from the pandemic. The last months of 2020 saw some recovery, but in January it fell again, he added.

Both Spross and the private tourism sector consider that it is necessary to establish and execute a support and recovery plan.

There are no concrete plans for 2021, it is a sector that has been hit globally, and there are repercussions because due to restrictions or their own decision, many people from the United States and other countries fear traveling to other countries, including Guatemala, because if they come out positive they could not return said the Fundesa analyst.

Meanwhile, Juan Carlo Zapata, executive director of that organization, mentioned that the sector should be included in the economic recovery plans, in addition to starting to work with the mayors on measures to increase visits and promote innovation in its tourism offer as it has made Antigua Guatemala with strategies at the local level to allow a more urban approach with pedestrian walkways.

In addition, they should invest in planning and reordering their territory as a tourist destination, he added, mentioning some of the favorite places such as Antigua Guatemala, Petén, Río Dulce, Sololá, Chichicastenango and others.

Zapata said that they are aware that these actions may help improve income compared to previous months, but they will not recover the impact of covid-19 since it also affects the slow progress in vaccination, so in their opinion it will continue affected in 2021 and 2022.

According to Fabian Juárez, an analyst at Asies, international tourism has slower recovery prospects than national tourism and that according to the World Tourism Organization it will take about 3 years to reach the 2019 figures, taking into account that the restrictions of mobility.

Borders were opened and certain restrictions were removed, but in European countries and the United States some were re-established later, in addition, coronavirus tests are requested, which discourages travel, he added.

“In migratory flows it is observed that those who travel do not seek tourism are the profile of a tourist called a backpacker who ventures into certain types of activities and generally does not spend what a normal tourist does. People who are back to their countries have also traveled. for emergency medical trips or family visits, ”said Juárez.

January and February are low season for tourism, we will have to wait for the behavior of March and April to see if it recovers somewhat since for Guatemala it would be high season, he explained.

Criticism

Diego Díaz, president of the Guatemalan Chamber of Tourism (Camtur), criticized that there is no concrete plan to attract foreign tourism and there have been « light » campaigns to motivate domestic tourism. They are waiting for the government to present a reactivation plan for the sector, he added.

He considers that although family or tourism trips have fallen, the fall is mainly due to the lack of corporate and business tourism that has not been reactivated, said Díaz.

Mark Rogers, president of the Guild of Tourism Operators, stated that the income of foreign exchange could have been a little better if the Inguat had started international campaigns to promote Guatemala as a destination since August when the government decided to relax restrictions and reopen the borders and airports, and it has only detected two weak campaigns to promote domestic tourism.

He said that it is positive and the decision of the Ministry of Health to change the requirements to enter the country should be promoted since it now includes cases such as allowing the entry of people without coronavirus test who have already been vaccinated with the two doses and who have already had coronavirus.

« We have been without international promotion for more than a year, » he questioned.

Inguat’s response

Gerberth Lederer, Marketing Director of Inguat, responded that there are two phenomena outside the institution that directly affect foreign tourists, one of these is that we are still in a covid-19 pandemic, so resuming international tourism will be a process that take longer than desired, « and in any case, we will gradually see normality ».

He said that in order to meet the biosafety regulations required by the World Health Organization, from the Inguat and as part of the pandemic care plan that the Government has been promoting, they continue to promote safe experiences from the tourism sector through of obtaining the Tourism Biosafety Seal.

Regarding the plans to attract internal and external tourism, he added that the institution’s officials have held several meetings with the tourism sector organized to develop the 2021 strategy, taking into account the needs of all Inguat interest groups such as hotels, restaurants, tourist sites, tourist guides, handicraft vendors, among others.

Several actions already implemented have been defined: Tourist Biosafety Seals, where more municipalities are being involved to join as ambassadors of this seal, as well as in the awareness, dissemination, implementation and monitoring of good practices. Also give continuity to the Quality and Sustainability Seals, training and technical inter-institutional support for the promotion of chains.

While for the marketing actions, promotion and marketing activities are contemplated in which specific departmental campaigns, promotion of responsible internal tourism, tourist packages and routes as well as the development of business rounds, virtual marketing fairs and strategies can be mentioned. jointly with the Network of Commercial Counselors among others.

The official added that they recently made « an alliance with VISA Internacional that will allow them to rely on their network for the promotion and marketing of packages and offers, which will be an exhibition platform for the tourism sector, even at the regional level. »

In figures

In 2020 there were 593,990 visitors, 76.7% less than in 2019, the year in which more than 2.5 million tourists were reached.
Currencies fell around 50%, from US $ 1,240 million in 2019 to US $ 637.69 million in 2020.
For 2021, two scenarios are managed, in the base projection it is expected that 198,079 visitors and US $ 129.7 million will enter. And an optimal projection with 998 thousand 423 visitors and US $ 956.47 million, although it would still be lower than 2019.