As Guatemala gears up for its peak season from November to April, Guatemala Tourism Board reported a steady increase of arrivals in the third quarter.
The board said that more than half a million travelers visited the country. The Guatemala Tourism Board (INGUAT) anticipates continued increase through the end of the year, especially with both fishing and cruising season in full-stream, two important tourism segments. Guatemala is also attracting more international hotel brands with the recent announcements of Ramada Tikal, which opened in October, as well as the Hyatt, Courtyard by Marriott and La Quinta soon-to-come.
“Tourism is one of the main industries in the country, generating significant revenue to the economy as well as new employment opportunities. There is a projected investment of USD $350 million over the next three years from both the private and public sectors, which is allotted towards new hotels, infrastructure, as well as the enhancement of public spaces and tourist attractions. It’s a very exciting time for the destination,” explains Pedro Duchez, the director of INGUAT.
As compared to 2013, the third quarter saw an increase in arrivals of 2.8%, with July experiencing the highest increase of 5.4%. North America is the second largest market for the country, representing approximately 30% of those arrivals. The first quarter of the year saw the highest increase slightly above 11%. INGUAT estimates that more than 2.2 million travelers will visit the country in 2014. Thousands of travelers are expected to visit for the holidays to experience the country’s fascinating New Year’s celebrations.
Guatemala’s hotel scene also continues to prosper, with both well-recognized international brands and boutique properties opening in key areas. The newest opening is the Ramada Tikal Isla de Flores located the northern region near Lake Petén Itzá. The hotel is less than an hour away from some of the top Mayan attractions in the country, including the Tikal National Park. The Ramada Tikal features 50 rooms plus a Presidential suite, two swimming pools, a modern fitness center, shops, a conference center, bar and restaurant. This property is part of the brand’s expansion into Latin America and is the first of four Ramada properties set to open in the country.
Just last week, Marriott International announced that the first Courtyard by Marriott hotel would be arriving to Guatemala City’s Zone 10, scheduled to open in 2016. The property will encompass a refreshing business lobby and bar, restaurant, meeting space and recreational facilities including a state of the art gym. Craig S. Smith, President of the Caribbean & Latin America at Marriott International said in the company’s statement that “The property will feature a modern, functional design while embracing Guatemala’s vibrant culture and the amenities travelers trust from our globally renowned Marriott International brands.”
Earlier this year, La Quinta Holdings Inc., owner, operator and franchisor of La Quinta Inns & Suites hotels, announced it will also soon enter the market with two properties in the country’s top destinations – Guatemala City and Quetzaltenango. Construction is slated to begin in 2015.
Part of a larger 10-property expansion plan in Central America, Hyatt Hotels Corporation announced in April that a 140-guestroom Hyatt Place is expected to open in Guatemala City by 2016. Located just 10 minutes from the Aurora International Airport, the hotel will be part of a larger mixed-use property that will feature exclusive shopping and entertainment, condominiums, office space and convention center.
“Investment by these top hotel brands is a testament to Guatemala’s growing appeal in the international arena. While popular areas such as Antigua, Lake Atitlan and Petén see continued interest for further development, the Tourism Board is also focused on broadening the spectrum by showcasing other lesser known areas such as Las Verapaces and Rio Dulce that offer different types of excursions such as wildlife encounters and adventure experiences,” adds Duchez.