How will tourism in Guatemala change this year?

Guatemala is naturally stunning, with year-round warm weather and friendly people. However, the country still faces difficulties, and tourism has yet to return to pre-covid levels.

Before the pandemic struck, Guatemala earned almost $1.23 billion from tourism. However, this number dropped by 75.68% in 2020, when covid-19 struck the world. This significant drop was particularly difficult for some areas of the country, like Antigua, which rely heavily on tourism to fund their economy.

It’s now been 2 years since the pandemic began. While things have settled down a lot, the situation can still be unpredictable as new strains of the virus develop, vaccinations are rolled out, and countries must adapt their rules to suit the changing situation.

 

What is happening in Guatemala now?

Like most countries, Guatemala is still recovering from the effects of covid. As a result, there is still a lot of uncertainty around what tourism, and life in general, will look like.

 

Challenges to tourism

In Guatemala, it hasn’t just been the pandemic that has kept tourists away. Harsh weather conditions and high crime rates are also guilty of dissuading visitors from picking Guatemala as their travel destination.

 

Weather

Typically, the best and busiest time to visit Guatemala is between November and March. These tend to be the driest months when many of Guatemala’s festivals occur.

From May to November, tourists should expect wetter weather. In fact, Guatemala has just recently experienced severe rainfall in June, which left at least 21 people dead and 668,000 homeless. Unfortunately, this extreme weather did little to encourage the return of tourists post covid.

Guatemala will continue experiencing weather extremes, with the Caribbean hurricane season lasting until approximately November. From November onwards, Guatemala’s dry season begins, and tourism is likely to increase.

 

Crime

Located in central America, Guatemala suffers from the high crime that plagues many countries in the region.

Guatemala has one of the highest violent crime rates in Latin America, and tourist-targeted scams are relatively commonplace. Advice for travelling to the area from governments including the US, UK, Ireland, and Australia suggests that visitors should only use pre-paid or radio taxis, avoiding hailing or catching rides from taxi ranks.

These governments also suggest avoiding ATMs and border crossings at night. General advice also includes that travellers should keep vehicle doors locked, even when moving, and should be cautious of strangers offering services they haven’t requested.

When travelling to places with higher crime rates, it is generally wise to research the area first and plan your visit accordingly. The more you know, the easier it will be to spot and avoid potential scams and problems. Checking plans before heading out can also help you avoid looking like a lost tourist and target.

 

Covid-19

Covid cases in Guatemala are still a prevalent issue. It has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the region, with only 35% of the population fully vaccinated. This low vaccination rate has been tied to distrust and worries about how the vaccine will affect health. Some Churches have even been advising their congregations against getting the vaccine.

 

What is the future of Guatemalan tourism?

These challenges may make you think that Guatemalan tourism’s future is bleak, but this isn’t the case. The country’s domestic tourism remains strong, and global trends are also seeing a rise in travellers going to Guatemala.

In fact, according to recent statistics, there is a boom in visitors to Latin America. This charge has seen a 40% increase in trips booked to the region, and the growth is led by solo travellers, especially solo female travellers.

One of the reasons why areas like Guatemala are experiencing this post-covid growth in tourism is because of the region’s natural beauty. Covid saw a rise in interest in nature tourism, and Guatemala has plenty to offer with sites like Lake Atitlan.

 

What do local Guatemalans think of the return of tourists?

Many locals are keen to see tourists returning. After all, tourists mean money. Various areas in Guatemala rely heavily on tourism, and the last two years, when global tourism plummeted, have been hard on them. Now, businesses are beginning to reopen and restock in preparation for the expected increase in tourists over the coming months.

And it’s not just money that influences this enthusiasm for tourism. For many, the presence of visitors means the chance to share the best-loved parts of their country and culture.

 

Current post-covid entry requirements

Guatemala still has some specific entry requirements. Travellers interested in visiting the country must abide by these if they wish to gain access to the area’s many beautiful natural and historic sites.

Luckily, these requirements aren’t anything outlandish. In fact, they are the same standard entry requirements that many European countries impose on people wanting to visit.

To see Guatemala, most travellers will need:

  • Proof of being fully vaccinated. Visitors must have received the last vaccination at least 2 weeks prior to their planned entry to the country.

Alternatively, you will need:

  • To show a negative covid antigen or PCR test taken no more than 3 days before your travel.

It is only travellers over the ages of 12 who must show proof of vaccination and those over 10 years of age who must provide a negative PCR or antigen test. Anyone who cannot get a vaccination because of a medical condition will either need to show a negative covid test or proof of their medical condition.

There is currently no quarantine requirement for those entering Guatemala.

 

What’s next?

Low prices, beautiful nature, positive attitudes, and relaxing covid restrictions are all likely to help boost tourism in Guatemala over the next few years.