El Salvador to boost coastal tourism with IDB assistance

A $25 million loan for investments in infrastructure, environmental management, local entrepreneurship 

El Salvador’s Ministry of Tourism will receive a $25 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to finance the development of tourism attractions in La Libertad and Usulután coastal regions. 

Tourism is a young but dynamic sector in El Salvador, as the number of hotels and restaurants grew by 30 percent over the past seven years, and the number of international tourist arrivals climbed to 1.25 million in 2012. Domestic tourism accounts for over 4 million trips a year. 

However, most of the country’s beaches and other coastal attractions lack the infrastructure required to increase the number of overnight visitors or to treat wastewater generated by such activities. The national development plan has made tourism a priority to improve job opportunities. 

Coupled with other projects being carried out as part of a broader coastal development strategy, the IDB-financed project will help El Salvador boost tourism revenue and employment in La Libertad, which is known as a destination for surfers, and Usulután, which is home to the largest mangroves in Central America. 

The project will finance multiple infrastructure works such as boardwalks, piers, wharfs, handcraft markets, scenic outlooks, visitor centers and wildlife observation points. The goal is that such public amenities will enable further private investments in lodging and other tourism services that will attract more visitors for longer stays. 

In addition, the project will support local micro, small and medium-sized businesses in improving their services for tourists and will help strengthen the institutions responsible for tourism and environmental management in the coastal regions. 

The project will also finance improvements in wastewater treatment in key tourism centers, including Alegría, El Tunco, Jiquilisco and Puerto El Triunfo. Land use plans and other environmental studies will also be carried out for the Bálsamo Coast and the Jiquilisco Bay. 

The IDB loan is for a 25-year term, with a 5.5-year grace period and an interest rate based on LIBOR.