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November 18/ 2003
- Press Releases

Tourism Sector Executive Summary, October 2003

• The tourism industry performed satisfactorily through October 2003, exceeding expectations based on the previous year. In June, the Honduran Institute of Tourism and the National Statistics Institute (INE) signed a Cooperation Agreement to create a reliable data base through the improved collection and processing of statistics related to tourism.

• In terms of foreign tourist arrivals, an estimated 322,000 visitors traveled to Honduras through the month of June. This was a 17% increase over 2002 and far surpassed the global tourism growth rate of 4%. Tourist revenues for this period are estimated at US$200 million. By the end of the year, 627,000 tourists and 880,000 visitors are expected to spend US$400 million in Honduras.

• The “Law to Stimulate National Tourism”, which was approved by the National Congress and stipulates that all national holidays in October be transferred to Easter Week (Semana Santa), brought about an unprecedented flow of national tourists to the country’s different destinations. Hotels enjoyed 93% occupancy rates as 1,227,371 tourists, both national and foreign, traveled throughout Honduras.

• In terms of regional tourism, an aggressive campaign was launched to promote El Salvador’s Ferias Agostinas. The US$100,000 campaign brought about a flow of 40,000 tourists in one week, a 115% increase over 2002 when only 18,000 tourists made the trip. These visitors stayed an average of 4.4 days and spent an average of US$80 per day for an overall spending of US$14.08 million.

• Visits to the website www.letsgohonduras.com grew by 300%. The site itself won the Microsoft Company’s 2003 @ de Oro award for excellence in institutional web design in Central America.

• At the 16th annual ESMA Awards granted by the Superior School of Marketing and Management at Spain’s Girona University, the Honduran Institute of Tourism was honored for the important and relevant efforts it has made to strengthen marketing and communication in the tourism sector and to promote activities internationally.

• As a result of our promotional efforts in Milan, Italy, the weekly flight from Milan to Roatan was expanded to accommodate 140 additional passengers. An additional flight with a capacity of 350 passengers is expected to begin during the first trimester of 2004. These will double the number of European tourists traveling to the Bay Islands.

• In terms of personal security, the Tourist Police units created in 2002 in La Ceiba and Tela led to a significant drop in incidents involving tourists. Additional units will soon be operating in Roatan and Tegucigalpa, where training is currently underway. With support from the government of France and Mexico, members of the Tourism Police units in La Ceiba and Tela received additional training in March and June. Meanwhile, the Honduran Institute of Tourism donated four 4x4 beach buggies to the units in Tela and La Ceiba to support beach patrol efforts there. Additional squads are planned for San Pedro Sula and Copan.

• The following foreign aid resources have been obtained: IDB: US$48.8 million in processing, US$16.0 million in execution (Bay Islands Environmental Management Program, 2nd Phase), US$2.3 in pre-investment (basic infrastructure projects); WORLD BANK: US$17 million in execution (Sustainable Coastal Development Project and Copan Valley Development Project); AECI: €491,000 in execution; Government of Spain: US$6.8 million in processing; other organizations: US$126,000 in execution. Most of these projects are aimed at developing infrastructure, services, strategic planning, local resources, municipal management and tourism products in municipalities with tourism potential. The grand total in processing and execution is nearly US$81,982,000.


• In response to a significant increase in the number of cruise ships docking in Honduras (108% growth from 2001 to 2002), the Honduran Institute of Tourism has created a Bay Islands Cruise Committee. With representatives from government offices, private sector organizations and the presidents of each of the trade organizations related to the cruise industry, the Committee is working to serve the needs of visiting cruises in a manner that is organized and sustainable, offering visitors a pleasant, quality stay. The IHT has presented the Committee with a proposed Honduran Cruise Policy, which sets forth procedures and regulations to be followed in this blooming industry. A Plan of Action is currently being evaluated by the cruise lines that dock in Honduras, who will work in cooperation with the IHT.

• A course to train tour guides was held in Tegucigalpa as part of a project to launch a City Tours service in cooperation with the Mayor’s Office.

• A pre-selection process was completed as a first step in choosing a company to design and manage a port for cruise ships on the North Coast.

• Preliminary designs for an airport in Copán were completed with pre-investment funding from the IDB and the process has continued into the formal design phase.

• Honduras and El Salvador signed an agreement to create a system by which travelers between the two countries are required to stop at only one customs point. The two countries are regional leaders in this kind of system, which is intended to facilitate travel between the two countries.

• As part of the IHT’s Municipal Reinforcement plan, the Municipal Tourism Development Unit has created 43 Tourism Committees across the country. The aim is to create a permanent structure that will guarantee the tourism development process.

• The restoration and rehabilitation of the Santa Barbara Fort in Trujillo has been completed. The site is now open to the public, complete with pre-Hispanic, colonial and contemporary museum exhibits. The project also included the creation of a Management Office for Historic Downtown Trujillo with funding from the Spanish International Cooperation Agency (AECI). Efforts are now underway to create a master plan to restore historic Trujillo.

• On July 3, 2020, an agreement was signed to launch the Copan Valley Regional Development Project with US$12 million in funding from the World Bank. The Project is aimed at ensuring sustainable tourism development in the Copán region through the creation of an archaeological circuit that will include archaeological parks at Copan Ruins, El Puente, El Palenque and Guanaja’s Plan Grande.

• A Sand Fly Management Plan was launched in four Bay Islands municipalities to spread information and sand fly control methods in an effort to make visitors’ stays and the quality of life for local residents more pleasant. A first series of fumigations is currently underway.

• The National Eco-Tourism Strategy is in development should be ready for implementation next year. Its aim is to regulate tourist activities in Protected Areas and National Parks.

• The first phase of a nationwide hotel classification program has been completed. The program has been designed to classify Honduran hotels and their services based on international standards.

• The Assistance Program for Small Hotels in Central America is funded by the OAS and aimed at providing training for small hotel owners and employees in areas like marketing and technology. Thirty hotels are currently participating nationwide.

• As part of a new strategy to promote scientific tourism, especially on the North Coast and on the country’s islands, an agreement was signed in June with George Washington University to create the Scientific Academic Volunteer Educational Tourism Program (SAVE). The program is designed to market Honduras as a travel destination to groups of scientists, academics and volunteers interested in doing field studies here.

• The advertising agency BBDO-ZEUS was chosen to design and produce the new Cultural Tourism Campaign, which was launched over a two-week period in October.

• A cooperation agreement was signed with Tegucigalpa Mayor’s Office to begin providing tours through historic Tegucigalpa and other points of interest in the nation’s capital.

• Working jointly with SETCO and the Ministry of Government and Justice, negotiations are underway with Spain’s Junta de Andalusia to finance eight tourism projects in the municipality of Amapala.

• Two Tourist Interpretation Centers were opened in the municipalities of Atima and Santa Barbara in an effort to strengthen local cultural identity and offer national and foreign visitors with a larger selection of resources and attractions as part of the Ruta de Junco initiative.

• The Our Lady of Suyapa National Observatory is now open to the public as a new destination for tourists to the nation’s capital. Guides have been trained for the site and a souvenir shop has been built.

• Support and technical assistance was provided to the organizing committees of the local festivals in La Campa, San Juan de Intibuca, San Marcos de Colon and Cantarranas.

• As part of a tourist safety program in the Gulf of Fonseca, 554 life vests were donated to the Amapala Maritime Transport Association, which provides boat rides for tourists to the island. Efforts are also underway to implement safety regulations for all companies offering boat transport in the area.

• The IHT has held a series of training sessions for municipal Tourism Committees covering topics like cultural tourism, hygienic food handling, and customer service. To date, 38 such courses have been held in 15 municipalities nationwide with the participation of 1,168 individuals.

• The representative for the Americas of the World Tourism Organization visited Honduras to give a series of seminars: two sessions to train local government to support sustainable tourism, a course on e-commerce and optimizing resources in marketing campaigns, and another on strengthening the IHT Statistics Unit.

• The Institute is also a permanent member of numerous regional tourism organizations, including the Mundo Maya Organization, the Central American Tourism Council, and Europe’s Central American Tourism Agency.


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