Central America Aims to Reactivate Tourism Sector, Create Jobs With IDB Investment

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Central American Federation of Tourism Chambers will implement a plan seeking to benefit 4,000 small enterprises in four countries

The region's tourism sector has shown a recovery in 2022. Photo: Courtesy of ICT for Bloomberg Línea
October 28, 2022 | 06:31 PM

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Guatemala City — The Inter-American Development Bank (IBD) and the Central American Federation of Tourism Chambers (Fedecatur) have launched a plan, dubbed A Tool for Reactivation of Tourism in Central America (Reactur), that aims to benefit 4,000 micro and small enterprises in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Costa Rica and spur job creation.

The plan will be financed with a $1.6 million non-reimbursable investment.

The Reactur project will develop programs for innovation and technological and digital transformation of companies, as well as training, promotion, marketing and improvement of environmental management programs in the four countries.

The plan’s aim is to accelerate the reactivation process and create income and employment generation opportunities for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises in the tourism sector, and hopes to reactivate 10,000 jobs, with a special emphasis on the inclusion of women and young people, who have the highest unemployment and poverty rates at regional and national levels.


The funds will come from a non-reimbursable technical cooperation grant of $575,000 from IDB Lab, and a $1 million counterpart contribution from Fedecatur. The plan will be implemented over a three-year period.

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Competitiveness and resilience

Rolando Schweikert, president of the Chamber of Tourism of Guatemala (CAMTUR), and who holds the pro tempore presidency of Fedecatur, said: “with this project, the regional private tourism sector will be leveraging the efforts to make tourism a competitive and resilient industry, according to the priorities and objectives of the regional tourism policy that will be launched in the following months by the ministers of tourism of the eight countries of the region”.

In addition, he highlighted that this project “will forge alliances with several instances of regional integration, as well as with others at the national level specialized in the different areas that integrate the components of the Reactur project”.

Beaches in El Salvador - El Salvador has seen tourist numbers grow in 2022dfd

The pillars of the Reactur plan

The project consists of several components that seek to strengthen the business fabric of the Central American region, by generating employment, promoting talent and innovation, providing training in areas of service and sales, the technological and digital transformation of companies, strengthening environmental management and the consolidation of ‘smart’ tourist destinations.

Estrella Peinado-Vara, of the IDB, said the IDB Group’s Innovation Lab seeks to support projects that allow micro and small enterprises to offer more competitive tourism products.

“We support the use of new technologies and innovation so that the tourism sector continues to be a source of employment while promoting environmental conservation,” she said.

The 'Mundo Maya' region, made up of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, has a wide variety of attractions for tourists.dfd

Multi-destination marketing

Carlos Umaña, president of the Salvadoran Chamber of Tourism, says the project seeks to generate a technological toolbox as well as innovation to strengthen the human talent of small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as improving the customer service experience through a customer service certification program.


Both actions, together with the improvement of digital marketing management, will enable micro and small enterprises in the four countries, which for years have been part of the tourism value chain, to become benchmarks and development destinations to offer the world and thus boost the region’s economy.

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Above all, in “the new normality, current conditions are increasingly competitive and we find a more demanding tourist, which challenges us to seek excellence in the tourism sector,” he said.

For his part, vice president of the National Chamber of Tourism of Honduras, Andrés Ehrler, added that “all Central American tourist destinations are more than ready to work together in multi-destination marketing strategies that generate a positive impact on tourists, as well as to strengthen companies with certifications that promote sustainability, innovation and good customer service”.

The Guatemalan town is a popular tourist destination.dfd

‘Smart’ destinations

And for his part, the president of the National Chamber of Tourism of Costa Rica, Rubén Acón, said the project seeks to bring tourism companies, national chambers of tourism and authorities closer to the concept of ‘smart’ tourism destinations, a model that seeks to consolidate innovative destinations that offer greater technological infrastructure that is sustainable and accessible to all, increasing the quality of the tourist experience and improving the quality of life of residents.

In addition, he said hat climate change mitigation and adaptation measures should be considered, given that Central America is one of the regions most vulnerable to its effects.

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