Central America becoming destination of choice for UK travellers

Costa Rica has seen the biggest increase, with a 136% uplift in UK transactions since 2014.


The face of travel is changing, with new research showing that Central American countries like Costa Rica and Argentina are becoming more popular with UK travellers.

Credit card provider MBNA analysed more than four million transactions from UK customers around the world to build up a picture of how travel habits are changing, with Central America seeing the highest growth in transactions from travellers since 2014. Spend analysed included accommodation, restaurants, bars and retail outlets.

Costa Rica has seen the biggest increase, with a 136% uplift in UK transactions since 2014. For growth countries for tourism, Samoa has seen a staggering rise with a 1744% uplift. Both Tunisia and Egypt have seen large declines, with -79% and -71% respectively since 2014. Typical popular destinations like France and Cyprus saw decreases.

Costa Rica, a country known for its stunning beaches, lush jungle and awe-inspiring volcanic landscape, saw the highest growth in spend from UK nationals by 136.12% while the southern Argentina has grown by 66.87%.


The British also seem to have been won over by Cape Verde, with a spending increase by 83.14% while Montenegro grew by 73.65% and the Baltic state of Latvia shot up by 48.91% over a two year period.

MBNA also analysed smaller markets with typically lower volume transactions who have seen exponential growth since 2014. The Polynesian island of Samoa with its serene, natural beauty saw a transaction increase from UK travellers of 1744%. Myanmar has also seen considerable interest with a 241.64% increase in spend and Nicaragua in Central America grew by 177.11%.

The countries seeing the biggest decreases in interest were Tunisia, with -79.6% spend from UK travellers and Egypt with -71.61%. Gibraltar also saw a fall of -40.02% while the Caribbean twin island of Trinidad and Tobago lost out by -39.32%.

Typically popular holiday destinations have also seen a change in interest since 2014, with spending in France decreasing by -3.91% and Cyprus by -2.82%. Staple British destination Turkey saw a decrease by -30.35% while spending in Morocco dropped by -23.82% over the same time period.

When looking on a continental level, Central American transactions grew the most by 32.76% while Oceania went up by 6.99%. Russia saw a decrease by -1.52% and Scandinavia had only marginal growth by 0.05%.