El Salvador, known for its stunning natural beauty and vibrant culture, is experiencing a boom in domestic tourism. According to the Salvadoran Tourism Institute (ISTU), popular destinations from January to August 2023 include Sunset Park, Balboa, Cerro Verde, Apulo, Amapulapa, and Los Chorros.
The Ministry of Tourism (Mitur) reports that approximately 7.1 million people have visited the country’s public tourist, cultural, and natural sites, as well as its protected areas, by August of this year. These figures highlight the sustained growth of tourism in El Salvador, offering safe and welcoming spaces for both national and international visitors.
This surge in domestic tourism can be attributed to the government’s security measures, which have enabled Salvadorans to enjoy healthy and secure leisure spaces. Morena Valdez, the Minister of Tourism, emphasized the importance of safety in tourism, noting, “Security is paramount, and tourists recognize that. It’s incredible how El Salvador has become a trendy destination and a central hub in the region for multi-destination travel.”
Valdez also expressed optimism about the sector’s outlook, stating, “The entire year will be a good season for the tourism sector.” Notably, January, April, and June have seen the highest influx of visitors to the country.
“The tourist doesn’t just take a tour; they experience cultures and identities,” added the Mitur Secretary.
Furthermore, this surge in tourism has piqued the interest of entrepreneurs, with a 20% increase in investment interest for tourism projects. The government is actively working on various tourism infrastructure projects, including the upcoming inauguration of Puerta del Diablo later this year, as well as the renovation of Boquerón and Cerro Verde.
According to the Salvadoran Tourism Institute (ISTU), statistics show that 2.7 million visitors have already explored recreational parks managed by the institution in the current year. In August alone, 279,565 tourists flocked to ISTU parks. The top destinations were Sunset Park with 90,665 visitors, Balboa with 72,084, Cerro Verde with 34,112, Apulo with 33,325, Amapulapa with 31,306, and Los Chorros with approximately 26,204 visitors.
In addition to the thriving domestic tourism, international tourism continues to show promise. By August 2023, Mitur reported 2.2 million international visitors, a 25% increase compared to 2019. These tourists are spending an average of $170 per day.
The top sources of international tourists are the United States (45%), Guatemala (23%), and Honduras (15%), with arrivals also coming from Canada and Europe. Transportation-wise, 56% of tourists arrive by air, while 44% choose to travel by land.
Tourism Driving Employment
Minister Valdez highlighted the increasing job opportunities in the tourism sector, stating, “According to our statistics, we are set to generate around 300,000 jobs, both direct and indirect, by the end of this year.” She also mentioned that discussions with the private sector are underway to address the country’s growing demand for tourism services. “Hotels are operating at 80 to 90% capacity every day, not just on weekends, which means we need more personnel and infrastructure,” she added.
Top 5 Destinations
- Sunset Park: This amusement park is emerging as one of the most visited destinations, attracting 90,665 tourists.
- Balboa: With 72,084 visitors, Balboa Park is a top choice for both locals and foreigners.
- Cerro Verde: This destination has welcomed 34,112 tourists by August and remains a favorite among visitors.
- Apulo: Around 33,325 people have visited the lake, thanks to the enhanced security in the area.
- Amapulapa: Positioned as one of the most visited vacation spots, Amapulapa records 31,306 visitors by August.
El Salvador’s thriving tourism industry not only promises economic growth but also provides locals and visitors with a rich cultural and natural experience. As investment and development in the sector continue, the country’s appeal as a tourist destination is set to soar even higher.
El Salvador’s Minister of Defense, René Francis Merino Monroy, recently welcomed the Sheriff of Suffolk County, New York, Errol D. Toulon, and Deputy Sheriff Kevin T. Catalina to his country to showcase the remarkable outcomes of the government’s security strategy aimed at minimizing gang-related homicides and other crimes.
The top military official highlighted the historic achievements made possible through the implementation of El Salvador’s security strategy, which has succeeded in reducing gang-related violence to record lows in the nation.
The Salvadoran Armed Forces revealed that Minister Merino Monroy engaged in discussions with the visiting American sheriffs regarding the practical implementation of the security strategy, which has positioned El Salvador as the safest country in Latin America.
“The international perception of El Salvador has shifted significantly, with our nation now being seen as a place where citizens enjoy newfound security and peace,” conveyed the Armed Forces in a statement.
The military authorities affirmed their commitment to working collaboratively with other security institutions in the country, forming the Security Cabinet, to continue providing the much-desired tranquility that the population currently experiences.
During their visit to El Salvador, Sheriff Toulon expressed his admiration for the country’s security strategies, saying, “I would like to take many of El Salvador’s security tactics back to the United States.”
He also noted the transformation he witnessed since his previous visit in 2018, remarking, “It was a completely different situation back then. Today, I can see that people feel safer and have greater freedom.”
Both sheriffs also held meetings with Gustavo Villatoro, Minister of Justice and Security, Commissioner Mauricio Arriaza Chicas, Minister of the National Civil Police (PNC), and Osiris Luna, Director-General of Penal Centers. Together, they toured the Counter-Terrorism Confinement Center (Cecot) facilities.
Minister Villatoro expressed, “Undoubtedly, it has been an enriching experience to share the successful results in the fight against gangs and criminality so that other nations can address this scourge.”
The exchange between El Salvador and the United States represents a promising avenue for sharing effective security strategies and fostering international cooperation in the battle against organized crime.
Nayib Bukele’s Message to United Nations General Assembly: Embrace Sovereignty and Courage for Transformation.
In his recent address to the United Nations, President Nayib Bukele of El Salvador delivered a powerful message that reverberates far beyond his country’s borders. The central theme of his speech can be encapsulated in a single phrase: “Embrace Sovereignty and Courage for Transformation.” Bukele’s impassioned words highlighted the remarkable journey of El Salvador from a nation plagued by violence and insecurity to one on the cusp of a brighter, more prosperous future.
President Bukele began by emphasizing the importance of renewal and reinvention, not only for international organizations like the UN but also for countries facing similar challenges. He reiterated that these words were not empty rhetoric but a reflection of his sincere belief and the transformative actions taking place in El Salvador.
El Salvador, like many developing nations, has long harbored dreams of greatness. Yet, for decades, these aspirations seemed unattainable. The country grappled with staggering violence and was once considered the most dangerous place in the world. However, Bukele’s administration decided to defy the odds and reject the destiny others had imposed on them.
Four years into his presidency, El Salvador has made remarkable strides towards achieving its dream of greatness. It has transitioned from being the global homicide capital to the safest country in Latin America, a tangible reality experienced by Salvadorans every day. This transformation has captured the world’s attention, particularly in Latin America and the United States, prompting many to wonder why similar changes cannot occur in their countries.
Bukele’s unequivocal response is that nations must assert their right to make their own decisions and craft their unique paths. He stressed that no country has the authority to impose its ideas or solutions, especially when those approaches have failed in the past. The key ingredient he identified for all recipes of success is courage—the determination to do what must be done, even in the face of criticism and opposition.
The Salvadoran president recounted a history of attempting various solutions, from civil war to false peace agreements and prolonged periods of political polarization. Foreign powers had often dictated these approaches, leading to devastating consequences. Bukele asserted that they were essentially given poison instead of medicine. It was only when El Salvador chose to follow its own path, to prioritize the well-being of its people, that true change began to happen.
Bukele described a series of critical decisions taken by his government to address the country’s most urgent issue: insecurity. They purged corrupt officials from the justice system, changed laws to prevent terrorists from being released, and encountered international condemnation. However, these decisions led to a remarkable reduction in crime, making El Salvador not only the safest country in the region but also a model for others to follow.
The President underscored the importance of individual nations taking charge of their destinies and resisting external pressures to maintain the status quo. He pointed out that this sovereignty allowed El Salvador to open its doors to the world, hosting international events, fostering tourism, and attracting investments.
Bukele shared a vision of reversing the massive Salvadoran diaspora, with over 60% of Salvadorans in the United States expressing an intention to return home. While acknowledging the challenges ahead, he cited UN studies that predicted a return of Salvadorans to their homeland. The President highlighted El Salvador’s growing international partnerships and its role as an example for other nations seeking to reclaim their sovereignty.
President Nayib Bukele’s message to the world is clear: when nations embrace sovereignty and have the courage to chart their own course, transformation and progress become possible. El Salvador’s journey from violence to safety and prosperity stands as a testament to the power of self-determination and the potential for renewal on a global scale. As Bukele aptly put it, “El Salvador is rebirthing, and we are showing the way for others who may want to embark on this journey.”
El Salvador’s financial indicators continue their upward trajectory, demonstrating the trust of investors in national regulations and the opportunities within the Salvadoran stock market. According to the Superintendencia del Sistema Financiero (SSF), as of August, both open and closed-end investment funds saw a remarkable year-on-year growth of 24.39% in their assets, equivalent to $107.58 million more than the previous year. This surge has propelled the total assets of these funds to $548.69 million, underscoring the investors’ confidence in the country’s regulatory environment and investment options.
Investor Confidence in Regulatory Environment: The increase in investment funds is indicative of the transparency and security provided by regulated financial mechanisms. The SSF emphasized this by stating, “Investment funds are subject to supervision and regulations, providing greater transparency and security to investors. By the end of August, they recorded a year-on-year growth of $107.58 million in their assets.” This boost signifies that various investors have chosen to embrace these instruments to help their savings flourish.
Rise in Banking Deposits: In addition to investment funds, El Salvador’s financial structure has fostered confidence among users, leading to increased deposits in their bank accounts. Up until the eighth month of the year, deposits showed a point-to-point increase of $912.1 million (5.2% more). Consequently, the total deposits in banks, cooperatives, and savings and credit societies (SAC) reached $18,313.91 million, a substantial figure that reflects the robustness and good health of the financial system. Furthermore, savings accounts witnessed a 3.1% growth in the same period, with an increase of $183.5 million compared to 2022.
Growth in the Integrated Securities Market: The regional platform established several years ago between the stock exchanges of El Salvador and Panama continues to exhibit positive performance. According to the SSF, the volumes traded in this market experienced a year-on-year increase of $63.64 million by the end of August. “The amounts traded on the integrated stock exchange between Panama and El Salvador reached $402.72 million by the end of August, stimulating economic growth in both markets,” highlighted an institution’s publication.
It’s noteworthy that this mechanism for integrating stock exchanges, established in 2015, has piqued the interest of other countries in the region, including Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic.
In recent statements, the President of the Bolsa de Valores de El Salvador (BVES), Rolando Duarte, announced that Nicaragua has already joined the initiative, and Honduras is also on the brink of becoming a part of it. This regional integration is poised to further bolster the financial stability and growth prospects of the entire Central American region.
The municipal government of San Salvador unveiled the cutting-edge “Sívar Seguro” video surveillance system yesterday, aimed at ensuring the safety of residents across six strategic districts of the capital city.
This state-of-the-art security system, with an investment totaling $6.7 million, boasts a network of 500 cameras equipped with advanced features, including facial recognition and license plate reading capabilities.
Mayor Mario Durán proudly announced the project’s key components, including 25 mobile towers standing up to 10 meters tall. These towers are equipped with five digital cameras, capable of capturing images in full 360 degrees. They will be strategically deployed to cover major public events and bustling areas of the city.
A unique feature of the system is its hybrid power supply, utilizing photovoltaic and wind energy sources, combined with a backup electrical plant. This innovation ensures uninterrupted operation even in adverse conditions.
Durán emphasized the collaboration between the municipal government, the National Civil Police (PNC), and the Ministry of National Defense, stating, “We have entered into a cooperation agreement with these agencies to pool our efforts in the fight against crime. Our goal is to complement President Nayib Bukele’s security initiatives under the framework of the Territorial Control Plan.”
The team responsible for monitoring the video surveillance system will maintain constant communication with the Metropolitan Agents Corps (CAM), as well as local law enforcement and military authorities, to promptly report any criminal activities or incidents.
Mayor Durán proudly highlighted the initial successes of the surveillance system, stating, “This video surveillance system has already yielded positive results. We have assisted the Attorney General’s Office and the National Civil Police in several cases of vehicle theft and common criminal activities.”
Furthermore, he announced plans to expand the system’s coverage and increase the number of cameras in the coming months, further strengthening this critical security initiative.
“Sívar Seguro” represents a significant step forward in enhancing the safety and security of San Salvador’s residents and visitors, underlining the commitment of local authorities to creating a safer environment for all.
As a historic milestone on the sidelines of the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, El Salvador’s Chancellor, Alexandra Hill Tinoco, met with her counterpart from Angola, Teté Antonio, to sign a Joint Communique for the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between the two nations.
This diplomatic breakthrough signifies El Salvador’s commitment to expanding its international footprint and fostering relationships with African nations. El Salvador has now established diplomatic ties with six African nations, marking a significant moment in its foreign policy history.
The six African nations that have formalized diplomatic relations with El Salvador include Angola, Burundi, Ghana, Equatorial Guinea, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone. This achievement underscores El Salvador’s dedication to promoting global cooperation, economic partnerships, and mutual understanding with nations from diverse regions.
The establishment of diplomatic relations will open doors for cooperation in various fields, including trade, education, healthcare, and culture. It is expected that these diplomatic ties will enhance people-to-people connections, facilitating the exchange of ideas and experiences between El Salvador and its African counterparts.
This significant diplomatic achievement aligns with El Salvador’s broader strategy to diversify its diplomatic relations and promote international cooperation. As the world continues to face complex challenges, such as climate change, economic disparities, and global health crises, fostering partnerships with nations from diverse regions becomes increasingly crucial.
To strengthen diplomatic ties between the two nations, the Government of President Nayib Bukele has announced the opening of an embassy in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This decision underscores the significant strides made in the relationship between El Salvador and Saudi Arabia during President Bukele’s administration.
“The relationship with Saudi Arabia during President Nayib Bukele’s administration has seen a significant boost. We have received several high-level visits from Saudi officials, and our Foreign Minister had the opportunity to visit Saudi Arabia last year. As a result of this fruitful relationship, we are planning to open an embassy in Saudi Arabia in the coming months,” stated Adriana Mira, the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Mira further elaborated that the recent visit by Abdullah A. AI Rabeeah, the General Supervisor of the King Salman Center for Humanitarian Aid and Relief, and his delegation to El Salvador aimed to provide training in handling vulnerability-related issues. The King Salman Center is a specialized institution in Saudi Arabia dedicated to emergency and disaster relief.
“We are also expecting a delegation of Saudi doctors to come and enhance the capabilities of Salvadoran medical professionals,” highlighted the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs.
El Salvador and Saudi Arabia have maintained an open diplomatic relationship for many years, and the approval of the budget for establishing an embassy in Saudi Arabia by the Legislative Assembly signals the imminent realization of this diplomatic milestone.
The Vice Minister emphasized that El Salvador and Saudi Arabia have collaborated in various areas, including energy and cooperation initiatives. “Next year, we also plan to open additional embassies in Africa, and more diplomatic missions will be established in line with the United Nations General Assembly meetings, where the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is actively engaged,” she added.
El Salvador currently maintains diplomatic relations with over 140 countries worldwide, and there are plans to expand these diplomatic ties further in the near future.
As El Salvador takes this significant step towards establishing an embassy in Saudi Arabia, it signifies the nation’s commitment to strengthening international relations and fostering cooperation on a global scale.
El Salvador’s Central Reserve Bank has been selected as the host for the 2024 Global Policy Forum (GPF) of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI), reaffirming the nation’s commitment to advancing financial inclusion worldwide.
The AFI’s GPF is a significant gathering of over 86 institutions from 82 countries, fostering dialogue and collaboration on financial inclusion. El Salvador’s hosting of this event highlights its dedication to this crucial cause.
By hosting the 2024 GPF, El Salvador aims to spotlight its achievements and inspire global action on financial inclusion. This event will be a catalyst for positive change, shaping the future of financial services on a global scale.
El Salvador made a significant mark at the “World Coffee Summit,” organized by the World Coffee Alliance. Ambassador Carmen María Gallardo highlighted the pivotal role of coffee cultivation for the Salvadoran Government.
Ambassador Gallardo spotlighted strategic actions aimed at providing innovative tools and support to Salvadoran coffee farmers. Notable among these is the integration of cutting-edge technology, including data analytics and precision farming, empowering farmers to increase yields and adapt to market shifts.
El Salvador is also championing sustainability, adopting eco-friendly practices like shade-grown coffee and responsible water management.
Collaborations with international organizations and financial institutions are fostering innovation and growth in the Salvadoran coffee industry, offering farmers access to capital, training, and market opportunities.
In summary, El Salvador’s participation in the “World Coffee Summit” underscores its commitment to supporting and innovating its coffee industry, ensuring the prosperity of its coffee growers on both local and global scales.
In celebration of the two-year anniversary of the Bitcoin Law coming into effect, the non-governmental organization (NGO) “Mi Primer Bitcoin” has entered into an understanding agreement with the Ministry of Education (Mined) to educate 150 teachers from public schools about cryptocurrency.
This groundbreaking partnership was initiated on September 7th of this year, marking the beginning of a comprehensive initiative to incorporate Bitcoin into the educational curriculum of over 5,000 public schools by 2024.
According to information shared by the organization, the trained educators will integrate their newfound knowledge into the curriculum and classrooms. The curriculum itself has been meticulously designed by Mi Primer Bitcoin and has been delivered to over 25,000 Salvadorans since 2021, both in virtual and in-person settings.
Mi Primer Bitcoin in Mexico
In an exciting development, over 250 high school students began a Bitcoin diploma program on August 21st at the Autonomous University of Nuevo León in Mexico. This program, designed in El Salvador by Mi Primer Bitcoin, was introduced to students thanks to the efforts of Senator Indira Kempis, a staunch advocate for cryptocurrency adoption in Mexico. She has visited El Salvador multiple times to familiarize herself with the crypto ecosystem.
Senator Kempis introduced the program to students at Santiago’s Preparatory School No. 20 and stated that this marks the “takeoff of learning” about new financial technologies among Mexican youth. She expressed her gratitude to those involved, saying, “We dreamed it, we planned it, and now it’s a reality for a community and its youth. I’m grateful to all those who trust us with this historic opportunity to bring Bitcoin lessons to life.”
The curriculum, as reported by the specialized portal Criptonoticias, comprises 10 chapters, with one delivered each week, providing students with a comprehensive understanding of Bitcoin and the broader world of cryptocurrencies. With these initiatives in El Salvador and Mexico, it’s clear that cryptocurrency education is becoming an integral part of the educational landscape, empowering students and teachers with knowledge about the future of finance.