Travel and tourism industry in Latin America - Statistics & Facts

In Latin America, tourism is an industry in slow but steady expansion, considering both the influx of visitors from overseas and the outflux of Latin Americans traveling abroad. Whereas the contribution of travel and tourism to the subcontinent’s GDP remains behind those of North East Asia, North America and Europe, it has been increasing. Such growth is particularly notable when looking into international tourists’ arrivals in South America, in the Caribbean, and particularly in Mexico itself. Mexicans also form the second Latin American nation that most spends money when visiting foreign countries, closely followed by the Argentinians and topped only by the Brazilians.

Furthermore, the Mexican tourism industry annual revenues in 2017 amounted to over 22.4 billion U.S. dollars, ranking first in Latin America – and surpassing the second (Dominican Republic), third (Panama), and fourth (Brazil) places all combined. The same can be said of the amount of money international tourists spent in the region, as well as of the number of foreigners who have visited Latin American countries throughout recent years: in both cases, Mexico places first and fully outperforms the following three countries or subregions ranked. The two Mexican destinations that most attract foreigners and where they spent most of their money when touring are located in the state of Quintana Roo: the city of Cancún and the resort district known as the Riviera Maya.

Meanwhile, other Latin American subregions stand out in the realm of tourism. The Caribbean alone – whose land areas altogether are smaller than those of Michigan, Romania or Laos – features the most profitable hospitality industry in the region: lately, the monthly revenue per available room of hotels in that set of islands amounted to almost 193 U.S. dollars, way ahead of the continental Americas. The Dominican Republic, Cuba and Puerto Rico, for instance, are currently among the Latin American states most dedicated to build new hotel rooms, just like Brazil and Colombia. These two South American countries, along with Mexico, are also the top three in the subcontinent when it comes to building new entire accommodation establishments.

Another trend in Latin America regards the unconventional tourism, where medical treatment has emerged as one of the main reasons for visiting this region over the past decade. Additionally, a recent study shows that the cities of Granada (Nicaragua), Quito (Ecuador) and La Paz (Bolivia) are the three cheapest places for backpacking in the subcontinent. That might be promising for the travel industry in those countries, as it tends to attract younger tourists.

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Travel & Tourism in Latin America

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Outbound tourism

Accommodation industry

Foodservice industry

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