The Economics Of Tourism In Latin America And The Caribbean

Cancún may be the top international destination American college students hit during spring break, but they’re not the only ones who favour Mexico as a vacation destination.

In 2015, Mexico was the top international destination across the board for U.S. travellers, with 28.7 million Americans heading to the country that year.  That Mexico is a tourism draw for so many is reflected in the World Economic Forum’s Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017, which listed the country at the top for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Mexico also logged the greatest improvement in the region, jumping eight spots to 22 internationally. In fact, of the top 15 highest-ranking countries in the region, nine moved up in the ranks since the last report in 2015, including Argentina, Peru, and Jamaica, which each moved up seven positions.

The report—which ranks 136 countries based on factors such as safety, sustainability, transportation infrastructure, and natural and cultural resources—also highlights how the travel and tourism industry is a significant driver of economic growth; the sector accounts for 292 million jobs, or one in 10 jobs worldwide, and amounted to 10.2 percent of the global GDP in 2016.

In the case of Mexico, which ranked ninth worldwide in 2015 international tourist arrivals, the sector accounted for around 3.8 million jobs that year.

AS/COA Online takes a look at travel and tourism in Latin America and the Caribbean. Tourism isn’t just about museums, beaches, and national parks—it’s also a powerful economic motor. Here’s how Latin America and the Caribbean rank in competitiveness in the tourism sector, and just how much the industry means to their individual economies.

How countries rank in terms of competitiveness

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Tourism and the economy

Tourism accounted for 1 in 10 jobs, and over 10 percent of the global GDP in 2016. Within the region, Barbados is the country where the sector represents the highest percentage of the country’s GDP and employment.


International tourist arrivals in 2015

Mexico leads the region as the country that received the highest number of international tourists in 2015, per the World Tourism Organization.


Top-rated tourist attractions

Except for in Mexico, the top-rated attractions in the five countries in the region with more international tourist arrivals are all natural attractions, according to data from TripAdvisor.

Source:, 27 April 2017

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