The tourism potential of El Salvador
El Salvador's potential as a tourist destination was recently highlighted favorably in an article in CNN Traveller:
El Salvador’s natural environment could, however, prove to be its ultimate economic saviour. And with good reason – its picturepostcard landscapes and valleys contain 25 soaring volcanoes, 321km of largely undeveloped coast line including some of the region’s best surfing beaches, Mayan ruins, inland lakes, colonial towns and colourful indigenous artesanía handicrafts.
To garner tourism investment, the Arena government of president Antonio Saca presented its National Tourism Plan in 2006, aiming to attract two million visitors per year by 2014. A new Ministry of Tourism was created and corporate support sought; Credomatic and American Express are both contributing to the tourism strategy. In April, tourism minister Ruben Rochi visited Qatar and Dubai in search of funding, and secured a deal to air a promotional tourism video on Al Jazeera. TV advertising campaigns are also planned for both CNN and ESPN, and the government is currently lobbying to have the Jiquilisco Bay – which counts 514 animal species, including 87 types of birds – registered as a Unesco Biosphere Reserve
El Salvador’s dawning era of tourism will partly focus on the cluster of hitherto undeveloped beaches near Puerto La Libertad, an hour’s drive from San Salvador. A new sea-front tourism park is being constructed in the small port town. A few kilometres west, electric saws and jackhammers fill the air at El Sunzal beach, a world-class surfing location that attracts wave riders from all over the world.
Those who are not at El Sunzal to challenge the surf are, it seems, building hotels. The new Roca Sunzal rents its comfortable rooms for $50. Among its many neighbours are the smart Roots surf camp and the once-solitary El Tubo Surfers Inn. When I was here seven years ago, the sea-front La Bocana café was the only place to eat. Today, a mini neighbourhood of restaurants, bars and surf shops has emerged, along with a cyber café and a Tourism Police office.
Gazing at the palm-fringed, volcanic black sand beach, frothing white surf and clear blue sky, there is a real sense of potential.(more)