How Will Guatemala’s Tourism Industry Look Post-Covid

Jürg Widmer Probst - Guatemala tourism industry

It is quite often that when people focus on Guatemala, they do not focus on the positives. They instead latch on to headlines of migration, corruption crime and a devastated economy, as opposite the rich history and lore which drives so many tourists here every year. Of course, 2020 and the beginning to 2021 have brought with it exceptions to this rule, thanks to the global pandemic that swept its way across the globe and essentially shut down the travel and tourism industry altogether.

Now, as vaccines are rolled out and countries everywhere begin to welcome back tourists, many people are wondering what post-covid tourism in the country will look like. Well, this post will consider firstly why people visit Guatemala and secondly, what impact opening the country could have and what form that may take.

Why Do People Visit Guatemala?

Elizabeth Bell, a native to California who moved to Guatemala at 14 and has since written many books on it refers to the country as, “magical.” Perhaps she’s right, when you consider the lush landscapes and towering volcanoes, the whole place rings as beautiful. Surrounding in history its Mayan ruins and ancient lakes that act as snapshots into its culture are the perfect destinations for tourists who are hoping for some escapism.

Not only that but the Guatemalan people are some of the friendliest in the world. Incredibly open and excited by their own country, they love to talk tourists through the culture and history in a way that touches the hearts of all those who visit.

Half of the country is Mayan, which means people who go get to experience a different culture as they see a lot of Mayan women in very beautiful, traditional dress. This dates all the way back to 3114 BC, which is when the Mayan calendar began and as such they are one of the oldest civilizations on the planet.

Where Is Tourism Coming Back?

Somewhere that is usually one of Guatemala’s most popular tourists’ destinations and has had to be closed throughout the majority of the pandemic is Antigua. Antigua is a city located in the central highlands that has recently started welcoming back a number of different tourists, which expats, shop owners and locals are all ecstatic about.

The impact that this return of tourism will have is huge as overall, about 80 percent of the city relies on tourism for income in some way or another. This means it is crucial that places reopen safely and with the correct protocols in place.

Whilst still being safe, it is reassuring to know that the famous cobblestones streets and plaza are once again trafficked with tourists, and shop owners are feeling the pinch of covid a little less. They are starting to make money as people want to document their first trip away for some time, buying souvenirs, ice cream, candles, embroidered runners, clothes and even guitars.

Can Guatemala Remain Open?

A local vendor commented about how cautious the city is being upon reopening and about how they are only offering tourists incredibly safe experiences. This is both to dispel the idea that there is a large gang presence but also to lay the newer threat of covid to rest.

Not to mention, Guatemala have also recently been promised aid from the US government. Vice President Kamala Harris said that they intend on offering numerous points of investment and aid, with the intention of re-energising Guatemala’s economy and creating jobs throughout the country.

Bell also commented on this. She said, “we support any aid the U.S. government will supply through the Northern triangle. We want to stop immigration. Migration from here to there is not good for local families. We want to keep people here. And how do they stay here? Jobs. That’s what we’re all about with tourism.”


Covid-19 brought with it a huge depletion in tourism and as such, countries such as Guatemala, specifically it’s more popular city Antigua, have suffered. Now, as people across the world are receiving the covid-19 vaccine, it appears the travel and tourism sectors can reopen. As such, Guatemala is in the process of slowly welcoming back visitors.

This is incredibly exciting for the country and given the caution been taken in welcoming people back, not to mention the new aid supplied by the U.S. government that will help the country, it appears Guatemala may well be able to stay open and begin thriving once again.

To stay up to date on all news about Guatemala, be sure to use Jurg Widmers Guide to Guatemala.