International tourism: a key sector for the region’s economyWhen looking at the global tourism picture, the most important drivers of the tourism sector are domestic travelers. But in Central American countries, international tourism plays the leading role. In 2019, for instance, approximately 60 percent of the total tourism spending in the region was made by international visitors. In 2020, this share went down to only 44 percent due to the impact of the health crisis.
International tourism also constitutes a major contributor to Central American exports. In the case of Belize, the most tourism-dependent exporting market in the region, the expenditure of foreign visitors represented around three-quarters of its service exports throughout the past decade. In Panama, this share was at around 50 percent, while the region’s least dependent country on international tourism in the same period was Honduras, with visitor exports accounting for 19 to 30 percent of the country’s exported services.