Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tourism, Tourism, Tourism

Honduras has so much to offer the world as a tourist destination...beautiful beaches, perfect scuba diving, rain forests, cloud forests, mountains, colonial towns, pre-Columbian ruins. The list could go on and on. Honduras should be able to be a top competitor to Costa Rica for tourist's dollars, euros, and pesos.

Although there are those that believe tourism would ruin Honduras' beauty, I disagree. If properly managed, tourism could become a driving force in Honduras' development and progress. Recently, I was reading an old issue of Conde Nast Traveller magazine and came across a quote from Ruben Blades, the former Panamanian minister of tourism, better known as one of the world's greatest salsa musicians, who said:

"Tourism is the fastest way to distribute wealth on a national level. It helps everyone, from cabdrivers to maids, managers, restaurateurs, and curio sellers. It's a chimney-free industry. There's nothing like it."

He listed Panama's immense opportunities...adventure tourism, ecotourism, agrotourism, ethnotourism, therapeutic tourism (referring to Panama's mineral hot springs and medicinal plants). "Where else can you surf in both oceans, or see Atlantic and Pacific marine life in the same day?" Well, to me the obvious answer to that question is Honduras.

After this, though, there is one glaring and unfortunate contrast. Blades also aims to offer something to foreign tourists that Honduras is unable or maybe just unwilling to offer, a safe vacation refuge. According to Blades: "Unprecedented security. I want any traveler who enters Panama insured by the Ministry of Tourism against accident or assault, and guaranteed instant legal assistance should something unfortunate happen. Tourists should feel protected, not all alone."

Now, wouldn't that sentiment be refreshing to hear in Tegucigalpa? Are you listening Messrs. Lobo and Alvarez?

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