INGUAT presented "a new Guatemala" at the ITB fair in Berlin

From March 5 to 7, the event brought together numerous leaders and representatives from around the world. There Guatemala was present and made known all its tourist offer and capacity

(Source: @harriswhitbeck on Instagram)

In this context, Travel2latam spoke with Harris Whitbeck, Commercial Director of the Guatemalan Tourism Institute.

What are the expectations of Guatemala's presence at ITB? 

What we seek is to change the narrative that has existed about Guatemala abroad. Guatemala is a country where new winds are blowing, where there is a lot of hope and optimism. Things from the past that needed to be fixed are being fixed and that makes living in a different environment, more interesting for tourists. 

We come to tell our story of today's Guatemala in the German and European markets that have great influence on passenger visits. We believe that Germany in particular is a market that has a lot of potential and that is why we are here. The German traveler is very interested in culture, cultural diversity and biodiversity, which is why Guatemala is the perfect destination for them. 

Are there any developments regarding infrastructure in the destination in 2024?

In terms of infrastructure, the first thing we have to do is improve the conditions of the international airport. The government is working on this at an inter-institutional level and has committed to making strong investments in tourism infrastructure within its administration, with public-private alliances to improve airports, connectivity and roads. 

We are creating an investment guide together with tourism that will make the conditions clearer for the international investor. There is interest from investors to create hotels. We do not want large hotels as have been found in other countries in the region, we look for high-quality hotels that attract tourists who want to stay longer and spend more money per day.

Currently, how could you describe the hotel offer? 

There is hotel capacity in all destinations, but hoteliers tell me that eventually they will need more, which is a good sign, there is more demand.

What are the most notable regions where you want to encourage infrastructure?

The department of Petén, in the north of the country, is home to more than 4,000 archaeological sites. And recently 1,200 were discovered with the use of laser technology. It is such an interesting place on a cultural level and on an experience level with nature that we believe there are great opportunities to use tourism as a tool for sustained development, integrated with communities and the environment. 

What are the main markets for Guatemala? 

The largest natural market we have is El Salvador, our neighboring country, they represent the majority of tourists who visit Guatemala. Next is the United States and then there is Europe, Spain in particular. 

What expectations in terms of visitors do you have for 2024?

Last year we received a little more than 2.1 million. By the end of the administration we aim to have doubled, reaching a little more than 4 million. And that is the goal 4 years from now, to maintain sustained growth.

What is the situation of air connectivity?

So far it has responded to the demand. We have good connections with the United States to the main cities; Miami, New York, Washington, Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Los Angeles and San Francisco with a connection. There are airlines that are talking about adding cities, which is important for us. We signed a joint marketing agreement with Iberia that is strengthening the relationship. Iberia has 7 daily flights a week from Madrid, and we hope that with this marketing agreement demand will increase and more flights will be required.

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