Key sector must grow

The economic growth of 7.5% projected by the Bank of Guatemala for this year, already in its last days, is made up of the combination of advances in exports, the effect of the growth of remittances, a boom in trade and other activities, which is a encouraging data. However, there are sectors that have not yet managed to recover from the effects of the pandemic, which have great potential to contribute to the economic improvement of thousands of families, but which are not yet clearly included in the recovery strategy; tourism is one of them.

In a stage plagued, literally, by the proliferation of viral strains such as the current omicron, it is necessary and strategic to promote the ecological and archaeological destinations of the country as a smart option, quite safe and attractive for travelers, whether on vacation. , medical treatments and also business. Unfortunately, the vision of successive governments has focused on promoting time and again the traditional, world-famous and worthy destinations, but there is still much to discover practically in the 22 departments. They are usually photographs and videos of personal experiences, shared on social networks, the only publicity for those communities, where there are entrepreneurs, guides and service providers who benefit directly or indirectly from the arrival of national or foreign visitors.

In a comprehensive strategy, new tourist destinations have the possibility of generating a direct economic impact on families who have experienced difficulties during the pandemic, and even before. Of course, a national training program on quality of service, improved user experience, and shared information is needed to integrate local efforts. The municipalities, instead of continuing with the atomization of initiative or of only allying themselves on sides when electing leaders of the association that brings them together, could well draw up twinning plans among themselves or with foreign mayors, in order to improve processes and exchange experiences.

On the other hand, the central government can strengthen the so-called tourism police to be not only a friendlier surveillance body, but also a logistical support institution for large groups of tourists, with rapid response to avoid assaults on groups or individuals. at critical points, as happened the previous week with the aggression of a criminal against a tourist in Antigua Guatemala. There is also a need for a renovation of road corridors, for example the South Coast route, which has stretched sections a couple of years ago but does not even have signaling lines or crossings like the one in Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa, near the hospital for Covid patients, which is less than 200 meters of asphalt to have continuity in four lanes, but in which an absurd daily funnel is formed. In short, promoting the growth of the tourism sector by 2022 should be a priority of the State, but due to the size of its scope, it needs to listen to the population and draw different paradigms. You cannot expect different results if you keep tracing the same models that did not work before.

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