Guatemala has reported two million tourists for 2013, representing a significant increase for the country’s tourism industry. In April 2014, the country enjoyed a 26 percent increase when compared to last year’s figures in the same period. The growing number of arrivals is a reflection of recent initiatives taken by the Guatemalan Tourism Institute (INGUAT) to showcase the natural and cultural wonders that make the country a top destination for leisure travelers, among them their 2014 campaign, “Life Lessons.”

According to a government study, the first months of 2014 continue to show this positive trend with 744,890 international visitors, which represent an 11.4 percent increase from last year. January and April were the months with the largest number of arrivals (9.4 percent increase), with April’s numbers attributed to the religious holiday of Semana Santa (Easter Week)- a staple in Guatemalan traditions and one of the most culturally-charged celebrations in all of Latin America. The United States is the second largest market for tourist arrivals to Guatemala, after El Salvador.

“Due to our unique bio geographical position, the beauty of our traditions, and the richness of our history we have the potential to become a key player in global travel,” said Pedro Duchez,”director of INGUAT. “We have comprehensive and exciting programs in place for this year, and we hope to continue this positive trend,” he added.

According to the World Factbook statistics, the tourism industry accounts for 23.8 percent of Guatemala’s Gross Domestic Product. During the first four months of 2014 alone, the country received $556 million dollars from this sector, and positioned itself as a desirable new market for international hotel chains and cruise lines.

Hyatt Hotels Corp is developing a Hyatt Place hotel in area of Zona Viva in Guatemala City. The 140-room development is under construction and will be operational in 2016, according to a Hyatt statement. In preparation for new arrivals and to grow their corporate segment, Radisson Hotel & Suites Guatemala City has launched the first phase of an expansion project with the construction 11 new guest rooms and three executive meeting rooms. The second phase of the project, to be completed by the end of 2014, will add nine more guest rooms to the property and include a complete remodel of the lobby and meeting rooms.

The arrival of cruise ships to the country increased from 48 cruises in the 2011-2012 season to 72 cruises for the 2012-2013 season.  Royal Caribbean has increased its calls in the country: from six cruises during the 2011-2012 season to 17 cruises for the 2012-2013 season. This year has experienced a 9.4 percent increase in the sea travel segment thus far, according to INGUAT.