05/06/2017 Travel

The 6 Latin American countries that are among the most competitive in tourism

With a gain of 8 positions compared to the last report of the World Economic Forum, Mexico remains the favorite tourist destination in Latin America.

According to the World Economic Forum's Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index 2017, the tourism industry moved $ 7.6 billion worldwide and created 292 million jobs in 2016.


Taking into account that tourism represents 1 out of 10 jobs globally, the importance of the sector becomes crucial for the future of the Latin American economies.


Between 2013 and 2015 the number of international arrivals increased from 170 to 201 million people, 90 of whom arrived in Latin America and the Caribbean.


Among the most likely causes of this increase is the low price of fuel.


An unequal continent

America is undoubtedly one of the most "friendly" macro-regions for international tourism and the second most improved since the last edition of the report, behind the Asia-Pacific region.


Although part of the explanation for the good health of the sector is due to the richness of natural resources of the continent, the World Economic Forum (WEF) highlights the great differences that exist between countries.


In the case of North America, the WEF recommends an improvement in price competitiveness, environmental sustainability and infrastructures so that the tourism sector continues to grow.


Central and South America, on the other hand, must make an effort to increase security, as well as create enabling environments that facilitate the development of businesses and infrastructures that enhance connectivity, says the organization.


Of the 136 economies that represent 98% of the world's Gross Domestic Product, 18 belong to Latin America and 6 of them are among the 50 most competitive globally.


The list, however, is headed by six European nations - Spain (1), France (2), Germany (3), United Kingdom (5), Italy (8) and Switzerland (10) The United States (6) and Canada (9) -, in addition to Japan (4) and Australia (7).


Mexico (position 22)

It is the most visited country in Latin America with more than 32 million annual foreign tourists.


"Tourism is a great generator of employment and is the great engine of the economy," said Enrique de la Madrid, Secretary of Tourism of Mexico, during the presentation of the report in Buenos Aires.


Not surprisingly, tourism accounts for 8.6% of Mexico's GDP.


Although the sector has advanced 8 positions compared to the previous report (2015), the World Economic Forum believes that the government should focus on improving environmental sustainability, the business environment and the safety and protection of tourists.


"There is still a lot to cover, such as stimulating regions and continuing to promote air connectivity," De la Madrid said.


Brazil (26)

With just over 6.3 million foreign visitors, Brazil remains one of the main tourist destinations on the continent.



In figures, tourism contributed US $ 5.8 billion to the first economy in Latin America.

Although it is one of the countries with the greatest natural and cultural diversity in South America, the contribution of tourism to the Brazilian economy represents 3.3% of GDP and generates 2.6 million jobs in the country.


Panama (35)

The geographical situation and a favorable environment for doing business place Panama as the third tourist power in this year's index.



Last year came 2.1 million visitors who left US $ 4.153 million in the country.


With a contribution of 8.1% to the national GDP, tourism accounts for almost 9% of jobs in Panama.


Costa Rica (38)

Ecological tourism and the wealth of natural resources are the two main attractions of Costa Rica.



With almost 5% of the active population dedicated to tourism, the sector contributes 4.8% to the Costa Rican GDP.


In recent years Costa Rica has earned the honor of being among the most sustainable and happy nations in the world, according to Happy Planet and the World Economic Forum itself.

Protected areas and national parks - two of them declared Patrimony of the Humanity by the Unesco - occupy 20% of the territory of the country.


Chile (48)

Almost 4.5 million tourists visited Chile in 2016, leaving US $ 2,408 million.

But the sector continues to have little impact on the Chilean economy, accounting for only 3.4% of national GDP.



Argentina (50)

Ahead of Peru, which is ranked 51, Argentina closes the list of the 50 most competitive countries in the world at the tourist level.



To continue to climb positions, the government announced an ambitious strategic plan that aims to create 300,000 new jobs by 2019.


To achieve the goal of positioning Argentina as the main tourist destination in the region, it is necessary to "promote the growth of domestic tourism, improve competitiveness and sustainability of the sector, increase investment and, lastly, promote job creation," said Gustavo Santos, Minister of Tourism of Argentina, during the presentation of the report in Buenos Aires.