Latin America is the go-to spot for American travelers right now.
A subcontinent full of ancient treasures, colonial gems, and world-renowned for its warm culture, it is one of the fastest-recovering destinations in the world, as asserted by the World Tourism Organization itself.
According to the WTO, several Latin American countries have not only fully recovered but even surpassed their pre-pandemic arrival figures, while Europe and Asia have somewhat lagged behind.
As things stand, Mexico is currently the absolute leader in tourism in LatAm, followed by the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Argentina, and Brazil, but why are these five countries so hugely popular in the post-pandemic scene, and why do Americans in particular love them?
The fifth most popular and the only Portuguese-speaking country on the list, Brazil registered 3.63 million tourists last year, a significant year-on-year increase compared to 2021, when only 750,000 foreigners crossed the national border.
It has continued to build momentum following the introduction of digital nomad regulations, in line with current trends, the promotion of lesser-known cultural sites, particularly the states of Minas Gerais and Bahia, and increased flight connectivity into both Rio and Sao Paulo.
As awkward as it might sound, however, Brazil seems intent on shooting itself in the foot, as it is about to introduce a new restrictive visa requirement for American nationals, who comprise a majority of non-Latin foreign arrivals.
How exactly that will affect tourism, or Brazil’s placing in this top five, is yet to be seen.
Argentina places fourth on the list, with as many as 3.89 million tourists recorded last year and over 6.2 million this year already, though this data is yet to be verified by the WTO.
Either way, it secures a spot on the organization’s top five.
The Southern country is best known for being the birthplace of tango and its meat-heavy cuisine, with Buenos Aires being at the front of the tourism offer as arguably the prettiest capital in the Americas, what with its Haussman-inspired architecture and European cityscape.
Additionally, Americans love Argentina because it is safe.
Though it is far from being a highly developed nation, it enjoys far lower crime rates than its neighbors, especially Brazil, as well as a Level 1 classification on the State Department’s Travel Advisory listing. This means it is as safe as can be.
At number three, the vibrant Colombia posted 4.51 million arrivals last year, according to the latest data shared by the WTO, yet updated numbers for 2023 may be much higher.
It’s always been highly sought-after by Americans traveling to the Global South, but following the wider reopening for tourism and easing of visa requirements for digital nomads, its popularity reached a new all-time high.
It is now the number one nomad and solo travel hotspot in South America, as millions of young American backpackers are drawn to its dense tropical jungles, Caribbean beaches, and energetic city breaks. With that being said, you shouldn’t let your guard down in Colombia.
Crime rates have been rising, and greater caution is urged when visiting larger cities like Medellin and Bogota.
2. Dominican Republic
With nearly 7 million annual visitors, the Dominican Republic is the only island nation to feature on the WTO top five, owing most of its success to the luxurious development zone of Punta Cana.
A strong contender for favorite among American sun-seekers, it is somewhere you go for relaxing by the beachfront, sipping on some pina coladas, or reading a book while getting pampered by staff in your five-star resort.
Beyond the attractive all-inclusive getaway deals, visitors feel closer to nature when visiting the DR, as the island of Hispaniola, where it is located, is full of verdant natural parks and coastal reserves, making it an ideal destination for ecotourism and wellness.
The bustling capital of Santo Domingo also plays an important part in the DR’s tourism surge, with demand for cultural immersion growing among Americans.
It is the oldest European settlement in the Western Hemisphere, as well as one of the best-preserved colonial cities to have been founded by the Spaniards.
Number one on the list, having reached over 30 million annual visitors already, Mexico is America’s go-to vacation spot.
Famous for its Caribbean beaches, ancient Mayan heritage, and unrivaled hospitality, it is the best-equipped Latin country to host tourists, having invested unprecedented sums in both infrastructure and security and boasting the best flight connectivity with the States.
This year, Mexico is about to become even more popular as the launch of the long-awaited Maya Train inches closer, a scenic train traveling on a loop around the Yucatan Peninsula, connecting all of the holiday favorites, such as Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, and Tulum.
Mexico is also one of the most generous countries when it comes to visa requirements, allowing Americans to stay for six consecutive months without applying for any permit in advance, while other Latin destinations often cap it at three months or even have stricter visa requirements.
It’s really no surprise it places number one on the WTO ranking.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com