Opportunities Abound in Latin American Travel Growth

The strong American economy means more people are keen to travel. With the American domestic travel scene remaining slow, many are looking beyond the borders, setting their sights on something more exotic. European city breaks, extended stays in the old continent, and the undying charm of cruises continue to draw crowds. Yet, it’s Latin America that is quietly emerging as a favored region, especially Mexico and Central America.

Impressive Growth in Latin American Tourism

Latin America travel and tourism has demonstrated remarkable resilience and growth, outpacing much of the global market. By the end of 2023, the region had surpassed its pre-pandemic revenue by 29%, reaching a staggering $62.1 billion. This trend continues: projections indicate a climb to over $71 billion by the close of 2024. A significant contributor is the increased spending by U.S. tourists, whose average spending was 17% more in 2023 than in 2019.

Central America and the Caribbean have thrived, thanks mainly to their appeal to U.S. travelers, the proximity to the United States, and the strength of the U.S. dollar. These regions offer a unique blend of cultural, beach, and eco-tourism experiences. Mexico, in particular, stands out as the crown jewel, representing over half of the region’s tourism revenue. It’s estimated to have taken $15 billion in tourism spending in 2023 alone, nearly doubling its earnings from before the pandemic.

Spending Smart – Local Currency as Well as Dollars

However, it’s not just about where you go; it’s also about how you spend. While the U.S. dollar is widely accepted in major resorts across the region, the wiser advice is to take local currency too – ideally bought well before you travel. In the words of Kay Tours, Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, “The best currency to bring to Mexico is a mix of pesos and US dollars. Use the dollars to pay for tours, entrance fees, accommodation, and travel. For everything else use pesos.” This makes sense. It gives flexibility, and local cash more versatile, especially if you venture beyond the big resorts.

Improving Foreign Currency Services  – Easily

For North American credit unions, the demand for travel is a unique opportunity to improve foreign currency offerings. There’s a real need for streamlined, user-friendly travel money services. Yet, many financial institutions use cumbersome outdated systems. This is where third-party services like Money 4 Travel shine, offering a modern solution that benefits both consumers and institutions.

Money 4 Travel, from Essiell, brings multiple advantages. Digitization delivers frictionless online ordering and a more modern experience for staff and members.  Transactions are fast and secure and are supported by automated daily exchange rate updates. For credit unions, integration is straightforward. Money 4 Travel requires no system overhauls, and provides intuitive interfaces for  easy use. Improved efficiency enables better leveraging of fixed assets, along with opportunities for augmented revenue in-branch. White label badging provides an excellent vehicle to improve services under credit union branding.

Enhance Member Loyalty via a Better Customer Experience

The value in Money 4 Travel is not just in operational efficiency and increased revenue; it’s also about making members lives easier, and in turn increasing loyalty.  As Latin American tourism continues to thrive, the opportunity for credit unions to step up their game in foreign currency services is clear. Money 4 Travel can help – with remarkable simplicity.

By Declan Morton, staff writer at Money 4 Travel and Essiell Ltd.


For reference

Latin America: Tourism Powers Growth,  Global Finance, March 4, 2024

What Currency is used in Mexico? Should you bring cash or cards? Kay Tours Mexico, January 2023

This site is better experienced portrait - please rotate your phone