Honduras may be one of the most under the radar destinations in Central America, but in recent years the country has seen a steady increase in tourism arrivals. With more than two million travelers visiting Honduras in 2017, representing more than $700 million in tourist spending, Minister-Director of Tourism Emilio Silvestri attributes the growth to improved connectivity, increased emphasis on new and unique experiences for niche travelers, and the hard work of the Honduran people.
Connectivity from the Air and Sea
Honduras 2020, a nationwide initiative to attract more investors to Honduras in a variety of industries, has made great strides in the tourism sector with a set goal of attracting an additional one million tourists annually. The initiative sparked the passing of the Tourism Promotion Law late last year, which includes funding for the promotion of tourism; incentives for investments; funding to support land and air transport companies, and more.
“These new laws and initiatives have already played a large role in expanding our tourism sector, and we are looking forward to seeing the sector continue to grow,” says Silvestri.
Among the recent examples of growth include the addition of new flights such as Air Europa’s weekly direct service between Madrid and San Pedro Sula, which began in April 2017, and the more recent announcement of Spirit Airlines adding bi-weekly flights to San Pedro Sula departing from Orlando, Florida. The International Airport of Juan Manuel Galvez in Roatan will also undergo multiple upgrades in the near future, including an extension of the runway and the addition of a new building for passengers.
“Beyond improvements in airport connectivity and offering new and unique experiences to travelers, the cruise sector is a key component to our tourism landscape and to our national economy,” says Silvestri.
In 2017, 350 calls were made at Honduran ports with ships carrying over 1.1 million cruise passengers—a 4.5 percent increase over the previous year—and the numbers continue to grow. In total, 18 different cruise lines dock at Honduran ports. Most recently, Roatan has welcomed new cruise ships including Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Reflection, Viking Cruises’ Viking Sky and TUI Cruises’ Mein Schiff from Germany. The new Amapala Cruise Port, which will open on Tiger Island, is also currently under construction and when completed will be the fourth cruise port in the country.
While Silvestri describes the city of Tegucigalpa as a “very dynamic and high-energy capital city,” he also says the country has much more to offer.
“We like to encourage travelers to explore our country beyond the capital as we hold multiple hidden wonders they won’t want to miss,” says Silvestri. “From impressive archaeological attractions such as the Mayan ruins of Copan to our 470 miles of coastline holding secluded, white sand beaches, Honduras has something for every type of traveler.”
Nature enthusiasts will especially enjoy a visit to Honduras as it is home to the second largest rainforest in the Americas and the second largest coral reef in the world. Current efforts of the Honduras Tourism Board also include developing and further promoting birdwatching experiences since the diverse ecosystems of the country make it home to more than 770 species of birds, including the ocellated quail, keel-billed motmot, agami heron, and the Honduran emerald hummingbird.
Another unique experience the tourism board is currently promoting is the Honduran Coffee Route, which combines coffee tastings and farm visits coupled with adventurous excursions and a variety of lodging options. The Coffee Route can be experienced in six different regions of Honduras and allows visitors to experience all aspects of the coffee industry from seed to cup.
Addressing Safety Concerns
While potential visitors may be concerned about safety, Silvestri is proud of the work the Honduran people have done to make the country safe both for locals and tourists, including the reduction of violence by 52 percent in the last five years. In addition, in 2012, a national Tourism Police was established with officials dedicated to serving both domestic and foreign tourists, as well as providing protection at the airport and at bus and cruise terminals.
“While there is still work to be done, this is an extraordinary achievement that demonstrates the capacity and determination that Hondurans have to overcome obstacles and move forward,” Silvestri says. “We are confident that tourist destinations in Honduras are safe for the enjoyment of all visitors who are looking for an opportunity to connect with an authentic and diverse destination.”
For more information, visit honduras.travel.