San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Guatemala’s Tourism Industry Clobbered by Stan

GUATEMALA CITY (EFE) –Guatemala’s tourism industry, whichaccounts for 3.2% of the gross domesticproduct (GDP), stands to lose $80 millionin projected revenues as visitors stayaway in the wake of the flooding andmudslides caused by Hurricane Stan.President Oscar Berger’s tourism commissioner,Willi Kaltschmitt, said thatGuatemala will not meet its tourism targetsfor this year. Authorities and industry leadershad expected 1.3 million visitors tocontribute a total of $850 million to thenation’s economy in 2005.According to the commissioner, some100,000 prospective tourists are likely toforgo planned journeys to Guatemalabetween now and January, representingabout $80 million in lost revenue.Kaltschmitt said that despite severe damagein some regions, Guatemala is still readyto welcome visitors to areas that escapedharm from Stan, including the Caribbeancoast and the Maya ruins of Peten.“You cannot visit Lake Atitlan, but weoffer you the Caribbean and Peten, whichwere not affected,” he said.The commissioner said it was necessaryto quickly restore road links to theAtitlan region, where thousands of familiesdepend on tourism for their livelihoods.Because of the storm, Kaltschmitt said,Guatemala will end 2005 having receivedroughly the same number of tourists as lastyear, 1.2 million. Through September,more than 1 million tourists came to theCentral American country, spending some$632 million, the commissioner noted.Rains spawned by Stan left more than1,000 dead in Guatemala along with economiclosses that according to preliminaryestimates top $1 billion.

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