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Is Honduras on the verge of a tourism boom? At the very least, the country is experiencing a surge in popularity.
An increasing number of cruise ship passenger arrivals is leading the way to Honduras becoming a secret hot spot.
Newcomers to the port include Tui, Azamara Club Cruises and Swan Hellenic Cruises, which round out an impressive list already calling in the country: Carnival Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, Princess Cruises, Costa Cruises, Holland American Line, Thomson Cruises, Oceania Cruises, MSC Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, P&O Cruises, Silver Sea, Noble Caledonia, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises and Sea Cloud Cruises.
According to the port authority, more than 1 million cruise passengers docked in Honduras during 2016, an almost 15 percent increase over the previous year.
Despite its newfound popularity within the cruising community, Honduras remains one of the least explored countries in Central America. That may not last long, however.
Spectacular coral reefs around the Bay Islands; lost Mayan ruins such as Copan; indigenous cultures like the Lenca or Pech; colonial mountain retreats; rainforest canopy tours; colorful festivals; and more types of birds and wildlife than your local zoo are beginning to drive travelers to Honduras in droves-especially those who once loved places that have since become overrun with tourists, such as Costa Rica.
The Honduran Institute of Tourism (IHT) recently announced at the World Tourism Organization's Regional Commission for the Americas that tourism in the country was experiencing a growth spurt. Spending by international tourists has risen. Arrivals are up, and improvements to air connectivity as well as the rise in cruise passengers continue to drive tourism numbers.
Several major U.S. airlines offer direct, nonstop service to Honduras, including Spirit Airlines, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, Avianca Airlines and United Airlines. Spanish airline Air Europa began offering flights to Honduras from Madrid as well.
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Of course, Honduras has a lot to offer visitors who are looking for stellar weather, beautiful beaches, adventure, history, culture and more.
Beaches and Diving
Located along the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, which is the second-largest reef system in the world, Honduras features exceptional beaches and diving opportunities. Roatan is world-renowned, and the Bay Islands are one of the country's largest tourism draws.
In fact, West Bay Beach in Roatan was one of Trip Advisor's Travelers Choice winners for best beach in Central America this year.
Utila is another major draw for scuba divers and is regularly recognized as one of the best places for diving in the world.
Nature and Adventure
Honduras also entices travelers with its 91 protected natural areas and national parks, which cover 27 percent of the land in the country.
Visitors can check out the more than 750 different species of birds in Pico Bonito and Celaque National Parks.
Honduras is also home to the Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1982. Additionally, the country is home to the widest expanse of virgin rainforest in the world as well as the second-largest botanical garden: Lancetilla Botanical Gardens.
Adventure seekers come for watersports, including whitewater rafting on Class II to IV rapids on the Rio Cangrejal.
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History and Culture
The country is home to several outstanding archaeological sites. Copan is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the western part of the country.
The Spanish cities of Gracias and Comayagua also exude the charm of a bygone era.
New in 2018
Honduras is continuing to develop its tourism opportunities.
In 2018, the country hopes to offer a new port on its Pacific Coast and further attract cruise passengers. The Amapala cruise port is located on Isla del Tigre (Tiger Island).
Janeen Christoff caught the travel bug while living in London, England. After two years on the road, she settled in Los Angeles...
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