El Salvador’s tourism industry is set to receive a major boost as the government forecasts the arrival of 20 cruise ships for the upcoming 2023-2024 season. This promising development comes after successful negotiations with several cruise lines that have expressed keen interest in the country.
Morena Valdez, the Minister of Tourism (Mitur), announced the exciting news during a morning interview. The cruise season, commencing in October 2023 and concluding in May 2024, is expected to witness a significant increase in the number of cruise ships compared to the previous season, which saw the arrival of 12 vessels.
“The President of CEPA (Autonomous Executive Port Commission), Federico Anliker, has been engaged in business discussions, and several cruise lines are now eyeing El Salvador as a prime docking destination. The official announcement for the upcoming cruise season is expected later this month. We anticipate approximately 20 cruise ships visiting our shores between October of this year and May of the next,” stated Valdez.
The Minister emphasized that this increase is primarily attributed to the improved image of the country, driven by declining crime rates, which has instilled greater confidence in companies to bring their clients for tourism.
It’s worth noting that the previous season had already surpassed the initial forecasts made by both CEPA and Mitur, which had estimated the arrival of 10 ships.
Furthermore, Valdez highlighted that during the last season, cruise ship operators reported that up to 90% of tourists disembarked to explore the beauty of El Salvador’s beaches, mountains, volcanoes, charming villages, and the historic center of San Salvador. Many of these foreign visitors took advantage of the short distances within the country by participating in up to two tours during the 12 hours their ships remained in Salvadoran ports.
In addition to the cruise industry’s growth, Minister Valdez shared encouraging statistics regarding El Salvador’s overall tourism sector. As of August 2023, the country had welcomed 2.2 million visitors, generating over $2.1 billion in foreign currency revenue.
“We’ve exceeded 2019’s numbers by 25% and 2022’s figures by 35%. We’re now at 75% of our annual target, which is 2.9 million visitors,” she proudly announced.
According to Mitur’s data, key factors contributing to this tourism surge include enhanced security measures, the vibrant atmosphere of Surf City, and the promotion of innovation through the use of Bitcoin.
With these elements in play, the tourism sector has substantially increased its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), surging from 5% in 2019 to an impressive 10% in 2023. This remarkable growth underscores El Salvador’s emergence as a sought-after tourist destination and reflects positively on the government’s efforts to bolster the nation’s economy through tourism.