Mynor Cordón, Director of the Guatemalan Institute of Tourism (INGUAT)
Visit Latin America: What is the current tourism situation in Guatemala?
Guatemala’s tourism faces challenges. According to the latest report of the Tourism Barometer of the UNWTO (World Tourism Organization), tourism in the world “Given the continuing evolution of the pandemic, many countries are reintroducing stricter travel restrictions. Measures include mandatory testing, quarantines and, in some cases, the complete closure of borders, which make all international travel difficult to resume”.
However, each country is working on the development and implementation of biosecurity protocols and is also targeting domestic tourism, with Guatemala being no exception. We have developed labels and good practice guidelines for suppliers in the tourism value chain, strengthened marketing and supply at the national level and are working with health authorities to strengthen communication and measures to facilitate entry and exit. Despite the pandemic, Guatemala is open to international tourists, without mandatory quarantine, but every visitor must have a negative test upon entry.
VLA: What are your forecasts for the return of tourism?
The following scenarios have been proposed:
Source: INGUAT's Research and Analysis Department Approximate data from the current crisis These scenarios were carried out on the basis of the movement obtained in the months of October to December 2020.
VLA: Since 13th of October, you have obtained the SAFE TRAVEL certification, how do you disseminate it and what other actions are being carried out in the country?
In Guatemala, prevention and action protocols have been developed for the COVID-19 epidemic for 14 segments, which have been called “Good Practice Guides for the Prevention of COVID-19 and other infections“, each of which has a self-diagnosis tool that allows the business owner to assess their current state in terms of the implementation of the health prevention protocols and to establish corrective measures when weaknesses are detected.
Tourism businesses that demonstrate their commitment and comply with the implementation of the Good Practice Guidelines for the prevention of COVID-19 and other infections, receive the Tourism Biosecurity Seal, which is issued by INGUAT. In turn, INGUAT, as an ambassador of Safe Travel, awards it to those who acquire the national seal. To date, more than 275 companies have already been certified.
It is important to mention that since the INGUAT, we have carried out several campaigns that have supported communication regarding protocols and safety measures. Progressively and following the evolution of the pandemic, we have started with prevention campaigns encouraging people to stay at home, to raise awareness in the sector to reschedule trips and not to cancel them, in order to follow the call of the health authorities in the implementation of safety measures.
Subsequently, we have worked to help tourist service providers so that they can be accredited with the Tourist Biosecurity Label, as well as to encourage visitors to look for establishments that have the label and apply these good practices.
VLA: In your opinion, for a first trip, what are the main places to discover?
Guatemala is one of the megadiverse countries, being one of the main natural destinations for its pre-Hispanic Mayan heritage which stands out for its cultural richness through its archaeological sites and traditions that blend between its past and present.
It all depends on the length of the trip and the interest of the traveller. A tourist can have an archaeological, historical, cultural and also natural richness experience and thus discover 2 to 3 emblematic destinations of the region: Guatemala, modern and colonial; Altiplano, living Mayan culture and Petén, adventure in the Mayan world, for which at least 5 to 7 days are necessary.
If the tourist is more focused on adventure, avitourism, health and well-being or even learning Spanish, then the ideal is to visit the country for a longer period of time to have the opportunity to live these experiences to the fullest.
Its natural, cultural and historical heritage can be discovered in every corner of the country, making it the ideal destination for holidays or business trips, since different segments of tourism can be found in one place, in its seven wonderful tourist regions.
VLA: What message would you like to convey to tourism professionals?
According to the World Tourism Organisation (WTO), 2021 is a key year for the reactivation of tourism. That is why tourism promotion institutions must focus on safety, innovation and sustainability.
In order to guarantee conditions of health and well-being, INGUAT has promoted national and international biosafety guides and labels to support the tourism sector and the population in general, encouraging caution on the part of visitors and service providers.
It is important to take into account and call on the administrators of tourist attractions to ensure and respect the authorised capacity in each of their places, respecting and applying health measures that we have learnt in the face of this new reality, restoring confidence among potential visitors is vital for the reactivation of national and international tourism.
With the commitment of visitors, service providers, the public and private sector, it is possible to make responsible tourism and offer safe experiences, taking into account the established health recommendations.
All the actions that Guatemala has promoted in the context of adaptation to the new reality are linked to the axes of the Master Plan for Sustainable Tourism in Guatemala led by INGUAT in the area of tourist safety, as it not only offers visitors a safe and stable environment, but also has to integrate the safety experiences that go hand in hand with the competitiveness of companies.
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