El Salvador lies in the southern reaches of the ancient pre-Hispanic region of Mesoamerica, embracing the Pacific coast. It’s a place of extraordinary beaches for surfing, mountain ranges, and majestic volcanoes, as well as other natural treasures including lakes, lagoons, waterfalls, and rivers.
And now, this Central American country has obtained the Safe Destination seal granted by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), guaranteeing the biosecurity of business travelers and tourists in this new normal.
This year, El Salvador’s International Convention Center (CIFCO by its acronym in Spanish), located in San Salvador, the country’s capital, was temporarily converted in 2020 into the largest hospital in Latin America to attend exclusively to patients of the pandemic. The expectation is the virus will subside, and El Salvador will once again have the largest convention center in Central America.
The most popular festivals in the country are the San Salvador Patron Saint Festivities, an observance of the religious devotion of its citizens, and the San Miguel Patron Saint Festivities, celebrated with a grand carnival.
With regards to commerce, every two years the El Salvador International Fair welcomes merchants from different countries and industries to exhibit their products. It should be noted that coffee and sugar have been the foundation of the Salvadoran economy for years.
Meetings in San Salvador, incentives outside the city limits
El Salvador might be a small country territory-wise, but it’s huge in natural wealth. San Salvador is the gateway to meetings and home to big-name chain hotels such as Sheraton and Barceló, as well as charming smaller
properties such as Eco Hotel Mariscal, a family lodge built in a renovated house built in 1953.
Everything is close when your group is based in San Salvador. The Gulf of Fonseca is the furthest point from the capital and that’s a three-hour drive. Just on hour away, however, attendees can arrive at the largest hotel in the beach area: Decameron Salinitas in the department of Sonsonate. With few exceptions, most hotels outside of San Salvador are small and very pleasant.
The El Salvador International Airport (AIES) is in the department of San Luis Talpa, 30 minutes from the city of San Salvador. It offers connections to Europe and direct flights throughout the Americas. Some of its non-stop flights to the United States include San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, Miami, Atlanta, New York, and Chicago, among others.
Where to go beyond the capital
During its heyday, the Mayan Empire reached all the way to El Salvador: among its most outstanding ruins is La Joya de Cerén (The Jewel of Cerén), a UNESCO World Heritage archaeological site located in the department of La Libertad, 40 minutes from the capital. This place was inhabited between the V and VII centuries, until it was destroyed by a volcanic eruption. Today it is a tourist attraction and offers a look at the pre-Columbian way of life.
The Ruta de las Flores (Flower Route) is one of the most traditional tourist routes, perfect for admiring the country’s natural landscapes, culture, and gastronomy. Coffee is one of the highlights, as along the way there are plantations owned by producers that have won awards such as the Taza de Excellencia (Cup of Excellence) and produce gourmet coffee.
The department of Cuscatlán, located in the mountains 40 kilometers from San Salvador, has two towns worthy of a visit before or after events in the capital.
One of them is Suchitoto, a colonial town with an important past: it was the first village in San Salvador outside the Captaincy General of Central America. Every February for the past 30 years it has hosted a Festival of
Art and Culture, and every November it celebrates the Street Film Festival. The other recommendation is a visit to La Bermuda, currently known as the Ciudad Vieja Archaeological Site.
Recommendations for eating and drinking
Once in El Salvador you must try the pupusas and the gorditas (a type of tortilla), washed down with a good chicha, an alcoholic drink popular in the countryside prepared with pineapple and piloncillo sugar.
And, if you’re planning on “going local,” we recommend trying out the Cihuatán Rum and the Regia and Pilsener beers. The latter are the most commercial options, but if you prefer handcrafted beer try Santo Coraje and Cadejón. For those who don’t drink alcohol, the typical frescos de fruta—flavorful fruit “waters”—are refreshing and tasty