Weekly Chart: The Economics of Tourism in Latin America and the Caribbean

By Gabrielle Rocha Rios

Mexico, ranked the most competitive country in the region by the World Economic Forum, gets 7 percent of its GDP from tourism revenues.

Cancún may be the top international destination American college students hit during spring break, but they’re not the only ones who favor Mexico as a vacation destination. In 2015, Mexico was the top international destination across the board for U.S. travelers, 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.