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Point of View. LATA: South America poised for strong tourism growth in 2018

Point of View. LATA: South America poised for strong tourism growth in 2018
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As 2017 draws to a close, LATA members have revealed forward booking statistics for 2018 showing positive growth in travel to Latin America, particularly to Peru, Chile, Argentina, Costa Rica and Colombia.

At the same time, the organization is predicting an increase in demand for less traditional and more off-the-beaten-track destinations, and a surge in luxury bookings.

In Argentina, Abercrombie & Kent has seen travelers move away from more traditional tourist destinations towards more undiscovered and wildlife focused areas of the country such as Peninsula Valdes located on the Atlantic coast and the majestic area of the Wetlands.

Jacada Travel has seen a similar trend across Latin America with a sharp rise in holiday bookings to off-the-beaten track destinations such as Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica, and Punta Gorda in Belize.

At the same time, airlines like Air Europa continue to develop their flight connections in Latin America, bringing lesser-known destinations closer to the UK traveler – such as Recife in Brazil’s north-eastern state of Pernambuco.

Both Journey Latin America and Chimu Adventures report strong booking figures for Colombia which over the last two decades has shrugged off its negative image into one of Latin America’s brightest stars.

With forward booking stats revealing increases of up to 20 per cent (Chimu Adventures), Colombia looks set for strong UK visitor arrivals in 2018. This is in line with recent tourist statistics published by ProColombia which revealed a 5.1 per cent year-on-year increase in UK visitors (between January and October 2017).

Although traditionally favoured by the more intrepid client, the growth of luxury infrastructure and services in Latin America has spurred the demand for luxury holidays.

Developments such as Awasi Iguazu (scheduled to open in January 2018 in Argentina), Leonardo Di Caprio’s “Blackadore Cay, A Restorative Island” (to open in 2018 in Belize), and the introduction of new luxury services such as the Belmond Andean Explorer illustrate a strong response to the growing luxury sector – a trend that is set to continue in 2018 and beyond.

It is also expected that the launch of Latin America’s first budget flight from London Gatwick to Buenos Aires with Norwegian Airlines will open up Latin America to a more diverse market, making the destination more accessible to a wider demographic and stimulating further growth to the region.

Colin Stewart, chairman of the Latin American Travel Association, said: “LATA continues to work closely with its members and the UK travel industry to promote sustainable travel to Latin America and to stimulate growth to the region.

“This year was a pivotal year for Latin America with new flight links and the development of new tourism infrastructure opening-up new destinations to visitors and catapulting Latin America to the top of the list of desirable travel destinations.

“We are delighted to see that tourism statistics for 2018 are looking strong and we look forward to continuing our work with the LATA members to help showcase this vibrant and colourful continent.”

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