Central AmericaÂŽs regional tour operator, EXPLORE, a division of Latin America Experts LLC, announced on Friday that the first tour group ever from the PeopleÂŽs Republic China has successfully completed a one-week visit to Guatemala and Honduras, Eduardo Rivera, Director of Explore in tegucigalpa, said.
Rivera mentioned that this was the positive outcome after the four country members of the so-called CA4 northern Central America Region (Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua), have recently reached an agreement to facilitate the issuing of visas to Chinese prospective tourists that meet certain financial and stability criteria.
âWe are proud to be the first tour company to welcome tourists from China, and I believe we will be seeing an outpouring of visitors originating in that important market in the months to come,â Rivera said. None of the 4 counties comprised in the CA4 zone maintain diplomatic relations with Beijing, but all of them have recognized the importance of opening up to the enormous potential for tourism development and possible investment coming from the far east nation. Softening on immigration regulations is the first step taken by the local governments to achieve this goal. Honduras and El Salvador have set plans to establish an office for commercial interest in China soon.
âIt is amazing what a little political will and common sense applied into action can do; the results are immediately seen and the benefits to the local economies are imminent,â Rivera added.
The group, composed of 20 experienced travelers, had a chance to admire the natural beauty and learn about the local culture and historic heritage at popular tourist destinations such as Antigua, Lake Atitlan, the Mayan ruins of Tikal, and Copan. Fifty-seven million Chinese nationals traveled abroad in 2011, and this figure is expected to increase by 22 percent every year in the next decade. Contemporary Chinese tourists are now looking for far-away exotic destinations, and they spend an average of US$5,000 on a week-long tour package and US$1,415 at the destination - much more than travelers from Europe and the United States.