Honduras is described as a travel destination that attracts the tourist because of its abundant natural beauties such as white and black sand beaches, coral reefs, vast wildlife, and first class Mayan archeology. In addition, rich culture and local cuisine is a plus that the tourist look forward while vacationing in the country.
Honduras is a destination with a high range of climates that offers visitors a diversity of eco-destinations to enjoy, from adventure tours in the forests to sunny walks on beaches in a tropical climate.
Among the main tourist ecological destinations we can find, Cayos Cochinos, Utila, and Roatan beaches and the Rio Platano Biosphere . Since May 2015 Honduras has a new country trademark: Honduras is for you. Current country trademark is an artistic expression of colours which symbolizes the sun and sky of the country, its rivers, cultural richness, economy and certain aspects of the country while its logotype represents the waves which express the dinamic of the country in the pursue of development.
II.DEVELOPMENT OF HONDURAS TOURISM IN RECENT YEARS
The first decade of the two thousands represented for the country a growth in the tourism Industry, specifically between the years 2000-2008, reaching an average growth of 8.4%, marking 2008 the year of highest tourist growth in Honduras.
Unfortunately, this growth was affected in 2009, due to factors such as the global economic crisis, uncertainty about the H1N1 virus and the political problems during the second half of the year. As a result, tourism industry showed a decrease of 3%. However, this percentage still shows an increase of 85% from the total tourist arrivals in 2000, which shows that the sector has seen a steady growth.
Tourism Authorities in Honduras are the Secretary of State in the Ministry of Tourism / Honduran Institute of Tourism; Free Tourist Zone ZOLITUR Bay Islands and National Chamber of Tourism in Honduras (Private Sector).
It is from the National Sustainable Tourism Strategy 2006 -2021 , the Tourism Plan priority actions for the effective promotion of Honduran products in international markets, the consolidation of the main tourist destinations across emerges infrastructure and tourism facilities , development of new attractive products with high added value in regions with tourism potential , and the design of new and diversified alternative chord with tourist business trends and demands of a highly competitive global market, among others.
In that sense, the strategic direction is making the Caribbean Coast the main engine of tourism in Honduras, through the development of an Integral Plan with projects for the necessary infrastructure and lodgings for the Honduran Caribbean Coast. These projects serve as “distribution points” to other destinations. This would attract the traditional “sun and beach” tourism and will offer additional activities such as attractions of special interest as nature/adventure tourism.
This Plan provides for the municipalities to develop one for each of the regions with tourism potential, with the aim of developing these poles to become triggers for investment and tourism development to a regional level.
For some of these poles, Regions Special Tourist Development and Free Zones for Tourism in order to establish models of tourist development are declared. It is intended that some of these development poles become regional triggers (in line with the provisions of the regionalization of the National Plan / Country Vision) of tourism development in Honduras.
The Investment Plan in the tourism sector for the period 2010-2014 has set to cost US $ 551.420 and consists of projects to be developed under Public-private partnership projects and private projects that search for co-investment opportunities.
III. INCENTIVES TO PARTICIPATE IN THE TOURISM INDUSTRY
Honduras has specific laws that regulate the Tourism industry, its procedures and incentives, and all the other aspects involved in this business.
The Honduran Tourism Incentive Law stands out, among its benefits, the following:
- a. Fifteen (15) years of exemption from income tax (non-renewable) from the start of operations. This incentive will be awarded only to new projects being understood as such, those tourism establishments starting operations for the first time, not those involving expansion, remodeling, and change of ownership, change of name, corporate name or any other similar situation.
- b. Exemption for once, until completing the required equipment, of the payment of taxes and others fees on the import of goods and new equipment necessary for the construction and start-up of projects.
- c. Exemption from taxes and other fees on the import of printed material for advertising or promotion of projects of the country as a tourist destination, for a period of fifteen (15) years non-renewable.
- d. Exemption from taxes and other fees for the replacement of equipment if damaged, for a period of ten (10) years, after verification.
- e. The exemption of 15 years is applied exclusively to projects starting operations for the first time, and do not involve expansion, remodeling, change of ownership, name, or other similar situations. The other incentives may also apply in the case of expansion projects, remodeling or replacement, when qualified by the Ministry of Tourism.
Who will be the beneficiaries?
The Tourism Incentives Law provides that benefits are granted to those who perform the following activities:
- a. Accommodation.
- b. Food and Drink.
- c. Air, water and land transportation.
- d. Recreation centers.
- e. Arts and crafts.
- f. Tourism agencies.
- g. Cultural and entertainment projects.
- h. Conferences and conventions.
- i. Leasing of motor.
- j. Educational, cultural and tourism institutions.
Likewise, for the specific area of the Bay Islands through the Law of Free Tourist Zone for the Department of the Bay Islands, we find the following benefits:
- – Introduction of goods or services
- – Exemption from tax
- – Merchandise or goods in quarantine
- – Goods or merchandise originating from the tourist -free zone
- – Personal effects and baggage trip visiting tourists in the territory of the tourist -free zone.
- – Exemption from entry tax or tariff for household goods and other personal property owned by individuals who have been domiciled and residing legally in the territory of the Free Tourist Zone for more than 1 year.
- – The temporary admission or exit of goods, equipment , machinery, vehicles because of work, either public and private, repairs , exhibitions, leisure activities or other purposes.
- – Exemption for import of vehicles transporting people or cargo, either by land, aero, maritime, from foreign origin
- – Tax and customs exemptions
International Hotels Chains established in Honduras
Some of the International Hotels that are established in Honduras and promote tourism in the country, through their names and sense of security they represent to tourists are:
- a. Clarion Hotel Tegucigalpa
- b. Hotel Real Intercontinental Tegucigalpa
- c. Tegucigalpa Marriott Hotel
- d. Hilton Princess San Pedro Sula
Indura Project, Tela Bay
Recently, in Honduras, the Tornasal project begun, the projects name was change, initially to Tela Bay Beach and the Monkeys, but finally settled for Indura Project, Indura coming from a garifuna word. Indura Beach & Golf Resort is located in the buffer zone of the Jeannette Kawas National Park, that is near the Garifuna communities of Miami, and San Juan Tornabé, La Ensenada and Triunfo de la Cruz.
This project means a significant investment for entrepreneurs benefitting the country in every aspect. As to date, the first stage of the complex has had its opening; the investment made is $ 120 million dollars, about 2,400 million Lempiras.
The project stands on an area of approximately of 312 hectares in Tela Bay and is the result of a public-private partnership in which the Honduran Tourism Investment Fund FHIT is 51 % owner of the shares and the Honduran Institute of Tourism (IHT) is owner of the remaining 49%.
This complex also offers new opportunities for real estate, because it has luxury villas in a visionary environment that does not leave aside the ancestral culture.
Central Law agrees that Honduras is a country with great opportunities that are waiting to be discovered. The country has all the natural advantages to offer a variety of environments that encourages foreign investors to consider the Honduran Tourism Laws and Industry.
We have the legal framework to protect the investors in any scenario, always providing the corresponding care of our cultural heritage and economic development.
By Claribel Medina
CENTRAL LAW Honduras