September 2nd, 2013 (InsideCostaRica.com) Costa Rica continues to lead the region in tourist arrivals, although Panama showed strong growth in its tourism sector between 2010 and 2011.
Figures from every country in the region show that tourism is an important part of their economies.
In 2012, Costa Rica attracted 2.34 million tourists, not counting what the Central American Tourism Council calls excursionistas, which are visitors who do not spend at least one night in the country.
While the rest of the countries in the region include excursionistas in their figures, Costa Rica continues to lead the region in tourist arrivals, including those of Panama, which attracted 2.08 million visitors in 2012.
Third-place Honduras has not finished tabulating its 2012 figures, but attracted 1.85 million visitors in 2011, compared to Costa Rica’s 2.19 million the same year.
In 2011, the number of international arrivals to Costa Rica accounted for 21% of the isthmus (including Panama and Belize), according to the Central American Tourism Council. Panama came in second, accounting for 16.6% of all arrivals.
Isabel Vargias, the president of the National Chamber of Tourism (Canatur), said during a meeting of Central American tourism officials that the region should not compete with one another, but instead with destinations such as Mexico and Australia, adding that Costa Rica’s Canatur is finalizing the details of an ambitious plan for the country’s tourism sector for the next 10 years.