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Tourism in Latin America – statistics & facts

The unstable economic and political situation in many Latin American countries during the past years has not been an impediment for the expansion of the travel and tourism sector in the region. On the contrary, Latin America’s popularity as an attractive destination for travelers has grown since the beginning of the last decade. Between 2010 and 2018, the region experienced an increase of nearly 55 percent in international tourist arrivals. Latin America was also the second favorite destination for leisure travel among locals in 2019, only topped by Europe.

Mexico: the favorite destination

Mexico is the thriving force for the Latin American tourism sector. In 2018, it was by far the leading country in number of international tourist arrivals in the region, with nearly six times more arrivals than the runner-up Argentina. That same year, Mexico was also the largest contributor in terms of domestic travel spending. The country accounted for over 40 percent of the domestic tourism expenditure in Latin America and the Caribbean, and is expected to retain the highest share in the region in the upcoming years.

Central and South America: budget destination

While Mexico had the largest expenditures by international visitors in the region, Central and South America have become increasingly attractive for backpackers and unconventional travelers, in part because of its affordable prices. In recent years, the sub-region has reported in general lower average hotel daily rates, when compared to North America and the Caribbean. As of 2020, nine out of the ten most affordable cities for backpacking in Latin America were located in Central and South American countries, with the Ecuadorean capital of Quito at the top of the list.

Caribbean: the choice for cruise tourism

On a global scale, the Caribbean dominates the tourism sector in terms of gross domestic product (GPD) contribution. The subregion – whose land areas altogether are smaller than those of Michigan, Romania, or Laos – is home to ten of the 15 economies most reliant on tourism. Specifically, the region leads the cruise industry. In 2019, the Caribbean had the largest global share in cruise deployment, accounting for nearly one third of the market worldwide.


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