- Category: Business
- Published on Thursday, August 11 2011 02:54
- Written by Rod Hughes
- Hits: 572
In just the first six months of this year, a record 1,197,199 tourists came to this country and a record 321 cruise ships docked at national ports in the 2010-11 season, 57 more than in the 2009-10 season.
This is the good news from the Tourism Institute released this week. While tourists who arrive by air are mostly those fleeing cold weather in the northern temperate zone, the cruise ship season is calculated starting in August.
The 2011-12 season for passenger ships began this week with the docking of the British cruise ship Grand Plaza with 1,950 passengers aboard. Minister of Tourism Allan Flores told the financial publication El Financiero that, while worldwide cruises have suffered a loss during the past year, this country has not only held its own but has prospered.
He added that he expected some 300 ships to arrive during the 2011-12 season just begun. The importance to local tourism here is, of course, the excursions arranged for cruise ship passengers during their brief stays in port, when passengers buy local goods.
Flores said, "ICT has been working with Central American countries to visualize our opportunities in order to innovate and plan itineraries... to involve distinctive tourism destinations and generate a higher visitation of these excursionists."
This is important because if the excursions offered are not attractive, the passengers tend to remain aboard ship in harbor, which does nothing for the tourism business.
ICT has set a goal of 2.7 million tourists in 2016. Yadyra Simon, president of the Association of Tourism Professionals, notes that it is vital for the country to not only promote tourism from the United States but also from emerging countries as well, singling out Brazil, Argentina and Chile.
The only cloud on the tourism horizon is the economic distress of what is still the largest source of tourists, the United States. This affects not only U.S. numbers but those abroad who tend to stay home in times of world economic uncertainty.