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Honduras aims to boost tourism arrivals and revenues through improved infrastructure and more international recognition.

BY CHRONICLE STAFF

Nicaragua likes to promote itself as the "next Costa Rica." But both countries are increasingly also seeing competition from Honduras. The countrys tourism sector is growing and authorities hope they can boost growth even further with new incentives, international campaigns and an expanded offer of hotels.

"Im very optimistic," says Honduran tourism minister Ricardo Martinez. "We have a unique mix of beach and sun, reefs, Mayan culture, colonial cities and nature."

Last year, Honduras registered 739,000 international arrivals, an increase of 9.8 percent from 2006, according to the World Tourism Organization. That was substantially higher than the worldwide average, Martinez points out. (The WTO says the global tourism market grew by 4.9 percent last year). This year arrivals to Honduras should grow by another 7.7 percent, he predicts.

"Hotels are fully booked all year round, mostly with business people," notes Pablo Largacha, a Costa Rica-based director of public affairs and communications for Coca-Colas Latin Center Business Unit.

HIGH RECEIPTS PER GDP

Tourism receipts grew by 5.4 percent last year to $488 million. That makes...

Keywords: Carnival, Royal Caribbean,

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