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Thursday, 23 October 2008

GUATEMALA'S SOUL

Guatemala tourism partners showcase the ‘soul of the earth’ in their diverse and welcoming country
Charmaine Pang

Reggie Kieda, LATA; Marco Tulio Rodas and Evelyn Davidson, INGUAT
Guatemala’s official motto is ‘alma de la tierra’ – Spanish for ‘soul of the earth’ – and yesterday evening, representatives from the country conducted a reception and workshop with travel agents and media to showcase their destination’s offerings.

Agents and media representatives conducted one-on-one business meetings with the suppliers.

The event took place at the Novotel Hotel in Toronto and was organized by LATA, the Guatemala Tourist Board (INGUAT) and six tourism partners representing hotels and inbound tour operators. The suppliers in attendance included Kawil Travel, Neys Tours, Adventures Tropicales, Transportes Turisticos, Porta Hotels, Peten Esplendido as well as Mexicana Airlines.

Federico Urruela Arenales
Special guest Federico Urruela Arenales from the Consul General from the Guatemalan Embassy in Ottawa was also present. Arenales spoke to TRAVELHotNews.com and said that around 32,000 Canadians travel to Guatemala each year.

Arenales said that Canadians go for myriad reasons – beaches, eco-tourism, as well as the “unique and famous landscapes” that characterize his country, including magnificent ruins dating back to the Mayan empire, such as the famous Tikal. Your clients can even learn to cook Guatemalan cuisine, learn to weave or even learn Spanish on their visit.

New trends: coffee tourism, medical tourism

New niche tourism trends that are happening in Guatemala include eco-coffee tourism, where your clients can visit organic, fair trade coffee plantations and learn how coffee is made; as well as an emerging medical tourism industry, said Arenales.

A video showcasing the many regions and attractions in the country played. Arenales said that not only was he there to promote Guatemala, he also hoped to showcase and promote “her people…the distinct and wonderful flavour of her people [is] her essence.”

Indeed, the country is made up of many different cultures, including 22 Mayan cultures, as well as Spanish descendents and the Garifuna. This diversity is also matched by the country’s different landscapes, ranging from high plains to rainforest, cloud forest, volcanic lakes, underground caves, whitewater rivers and more.

The country’s flora and fauna are spectacular. Clients who trek in the jungles have a chance to see over 300 species of birds, howler monkeys, tropical flowers (including many species of orchids) and maybe even a jaguar or two.

There are two airports – one in Guatemala City and one in Flores Peten. The best way to get to Guatemala is with Mexicana Airlines, which connects to Guatemala and other cities in Central and South America via Mexico City.

There are also two cruise ports, one on the Pacific coast and one on the Atlantic coast – so if you have clients looking to cruise in Central and South America, Guatemala often features as a port of call.

Hors d’oeuvres and the evening’s dinner were created by chef Humberto Dominguez from Kacao Restaurant in Guatemala, showcasing the diverse and delicious cuisine of the country.

 

The Guatemala delegation

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