Surge in Tourism and Gastronomy Businesses Marks El Salvador’s Economic Resurgence.

The latest data from the National Registry Center (CNR) indicates a remarkable rise in businesses dedicated to tourism and gastronomy in El Salvador. Over the past two years, the CNR has reported a significant increase in service-oriented enterprises encompassing food, lodging, and entertainment.

During the recent August vacation period, more than 88,000 international tourists flocked to El Salvador. This figure not only surpassed expectations but also underscored the nation’s ascent as an emerging travel destination, as stated by the Ministry of Tourism (Mitur).

According to Mitur authorities, this sector has emerged as a vital driver of the economy, surpassing pre-pandemic 2019 metrics and solidifying its position since 2022.

Comparing data from the Trade Registry of the National Registry Center, spanning from January to June 2023, it’s been revealed that a total of 1,628 new companies have been registered in El Salvador. Among the sectors showing the highest growth, gastronomy and tourism services take the lead.

“The past few years have been symbolic; gastronomy-related establishments, including restaurants, cafes, and eateries, have experienced remarkable growth. This surge reflects a growing interest in the culinary sector,” stated Camilo Trigueros, Director of the NRC, in an interview with “Diario El Salvador.”

Trigueros added that another sector gaining momentum is accommodation, entertainment, and the broader tourism industry. He highlighted that both domestic and international companies have contributed to this trend.

“Businesses linked to tourism, specifically those enterprises that have invested in the country, are thriving. These companies are not only registering with the Trade Registry but also with the Intellectual Property Registry due to the dynamics of our commerce,” assured the official.

Breaking down the data further, the service sector, encompassing these commercial branches, exhibited a growth of 51.95% in total registrations during the first half of the year. It was followed by commerce at 35.47%, construction at 4.67%, industry at 3.24%, transportation at 1.38%, and other sectors at 3.29%.

In terms of revenue, the 88,000 international visitors who arrived in August contributed to more than $80 million in foreign exchange, according to Mitur’s data. Projections indicate that by the end of the year, the figure will surpass 2.9 million visitors, resulting in an economic impact of $2.9 billion.

Interestingly, the trend suggests that the numbers could be even higher. In just the first half of 2023, around 1.6 million visitors arrived in the country, contributing more than $1.6 billion to the tourism sector.

Furthermore, Tourism Minister Morena Valdez declared that from August until the year’s end, no off-peak seasons are anticipated due to the multitude of international events scheduled in the country. These include surf tournaments, business conferences, and the upcoming Miss Universe pageant, set to take place in November.

Presently, El Salvador ranks as the second-largest recipient of international tourists, only trailing behind the Dominican Republic. With this robust growth, the nation is set to redefine its position on the global tourism map.