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Published by Maria Eduarda Possamai | Jul 14, 2016 | | 2 MIN READ

Growth or recession? How Latin America's economy is affecting tourism (and what to expect in future)

This article is adapted from our just-published Tourism Trend Report: Latin America. You can download your free copy of the report for more exclusive insights and strategies.


Think of Latin America and you may well end up dreaming of the beaches, wildlife, ecotourism and rich culture. Tourism is key to the economy of many Latin American countries, and cultural tourism has become an important source of their revenue, especially in the Andes and Meso-America.

At a first glance of the statistics, there has been a certain amount of growth in Latin America's tourism industry in recent years. In fact, the Tourism Barometer of The United Nations World Travel Organisation lists these destinations in the top 10 countries with fastest-growing visitor numbers:

  • Paraguay (1st, +97%)
  • Panama (7th, +22.4%)
  • Chile (9th, +20,4%)

Especially notable is Paraguay, with an impressive rise of 97%, and visitor numbers to the Caribbean (+7.4%) and Central America (+7.1%) rose more than any other region in 2015.

Torres del Paine, Chile

However, many Latin American countries have also been through severe economic issues. Some economies are managing the region's recession better than others and are even growing, but others - in particular Brazil, Ecuador and Venezuela, are facing a severe economic deterioration. How will this impact tourism, especially with the Rio Olympics due to start in August 2016?

The pros and cons of an expensive US dollar

Trapped by recession, major Latin American currencies have decreased against the value of the US dollar. Overall this situation is causing complications for business in the region, but there also are some positives for tour and activities operators within these.

Firstly, since the US dollar is expensive for Latin Americans, this will lead to more internal tourism and leisure, which will move the market for guides and agencies. What's more, these countries are becoming an economical place for foreigners because of the current exchange rate, with low costs an extra incentive for international tourists to visit.

Nature tourism in Latin America 

Latin America is appealing to a money-savvy middle class

With the growth of the middle class and their search for value for money and new travel interests, many destinations in emerging and developing regions (many of which are in South America) have also managed to develop and exploit their tourism potential to attract and retain visitors. With effective destination marketing that 

According to the Horwath HTL report, the expectation is that these countries will soon have more international arrivals than developed markets, which could make tourism an important factor in the restoration of each country’s development.


Maximising benefits, minimizing fees

One way seen by tourist organizations and government agencies to maximise benefits is to encourage tourism by focusing on the release of visas and minimizing fees charged in the field.

Tourism experts have also made similar suggestions for Brazil to prepare for the Olympic Games in 2016, as well as recommendations such as greater multilingual efforts for tourism companies.

Travel and economy in Brazil

With this positive view of tourism in mind, plus some of the most interesting recent industry research, we have published a free ebook that will show you the main trends that will drive tourism in Latin America over the next few years.


Get your copy of the Latin America trend report for the latest strategies and tools to help your tourism company keep up and prepare for the future


Tourism trends in Latin America


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Maria Eduarda Possamai
Published by Maria Eduarda Possamai
Brazilian social media analyst and content writer who likes traveling, camping and listening to some good music. You may call her Duda.
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