New figures are showing that European tourists are flocking to Central American destinations in greater numbers, with UK traveller numbers following the trend.
The total number of European visitors heading to Central America in 2012 reached 747,712 according to visitor data collected from the tourism ministries of Costa Rica, Belize, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Panama and Guatemala. This total indicates a 2,4 per cent increase on visitor numbers collected in 2011, and just over 96,000 of this total were from the UK.
The most popular of all the Central American countries was Costa Rica, which welcomed a total of 2.3 million visitors from around the world during the first 11 months of 2012. British travellers tended to favour the country of Belize, while Panama saw an increase of 7 per cent in visitors from the UK.
Central America offers visitors an enticing combination of attractions, including jungles rich in exotic flora and fauna, stunning stretches of deserted sandy beaches, some outstanding scuba diving locations and also the fascinating history and architecture of the Mayan culture. Copan in Honduras boasts some fine Mayan ruins, which are a favoured tourist spot, along with the Manuel Antonio National Park in Costa Rica.
Nicaragua has seen a huge boost in tourism income over the past seven years, with the holiday industry becoming the nation's largest source of income by 2007. The colonial cities Leon and Granada are said to be particular favourites with visitors, while surfing and ecotourism also contribute to the success of the country's tourist industry.