Surf City El Salvador, Positioning El Salvador as a Top Tourist Destination

By Eddie Galdamez  | Updated on Feb 10th, 2022
Surf City El Salvador
Surf City El Salvador. Photo by @SecPrensaSV

Surf City El Salvador is a tourist project created by president Bukele to bring tourists to El Salvador. It focuses on showcasing the fantastic Salvadoran surf spots and beautiful beaches. Furthermore, it is intended to make the country a top tourist destination and change the worldwide’s perception of El Salvador.

The project started as a presidential campaign promise by Nayib Bukele. His plan was to develop the Salvadoran coastal area near the international airport and promote the impressive Salvadoran beaches to attract tourists to all aspects of Salvadoran tourism.

The project was a success from the start in 2019; El Salvador was selected to host the 2020 ISA World Surfing Games, which were scheduled to place in 2020 from May 9 to 17.

El Salvador beat four other nations looking to host the ISA 2020 surfing games, Costa Rica, Spain, New Zealand, and Japan.

Surf City El Salvador
2021 ISA surfing games. Photo by @ComunicacionSV

The 2020 ISA World surfing games were among the most significant surfing tournaments of the year; it was a stepping stone to the Tokyo Olympics.

The top performers at this surfing event had the chance to win a spot in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ISA World Surfing Games were rescheduled from 2020 to June 6, 2021.

During the May-June 2021 surfing event, surfers from over 50 nations competed at El Salvador’s pristine beaches. Some of the winners gained a ticket to the Tokyo Olimpic events.

The Surf City El Salvador project continues to bring tourists to El Salvador. in 2021, the ALAS Pro Tour 2021 Surfing Championship was held at Punta Roca Beach, one of the best surf locations in the country.

And in 2022, El Salvador will host event number seven of the 2022 World Surfing League Championship, from June 23rd to the 30th. Hosting a WSL event is a vote of confidence to the surf City El Salvador project.

Is El Salvador safe to visit for tourists
Surfers at El Tunco beach. Photo by Edwin Nuñes

Improving Infrastructure in the Area

To make Surf City El Salvador a success, the government declared 21 kilometers of the coastal area as a Tourist Zone of National Interest. The tourist zone extends from Walter Thilo Deininger Park to El Zonte Beach.

Surf City El Salvador
Photo by @SecPrensaSV

According to government officials, this area has more than 250 businesses in food, accommodation, recreation, information, and transportation. All of these businesses will benefit from the new infrastructure.

By declaring the stretch as a Tourist Zone of National Interest, the Salvadoran Government will focus on development. It will provide technical training for businesses and will help with tourism promotion.

These businesses will help capture and satisfy the needs and demands of all tourists who visit the Surf City El Salvador area.

The tourist Zone of National Interest included top surfing beaches such as El Tunco, La Paz, Punta Roca, and El Zonte. These beaches are some of the best surf spots in El Salvador.

We have the first Tourist Zone of National Interest in the Marine Coastal Strip. It will allow us to generate a comprehensive intervention of the destination that will multiply its benefits to other tourism segments,” said the Minister of Tourism.”

In 2020, the Salvadoran government spent more than $9 million in strategic investment for Surf City infrastructure in La Libertad. It included improving the La Libertad pier and its fishing market and the new Mercado del Mar.

The Surf City project will bring development to the coastal area. To make the coastal area more attractive, the government is improving roads, hotels, restaurants, shopping areas, etc.

In February 2020, the La Libertad bypass was completed. It is a modern road that will directly connect with the Salvadoran coastline without going through the Port of La Libertad’s urban area.

Road to Surf City
Surf City Road. Photo by @ObrasPublicasSV

We have records that more than 1.2 million people come to the port of La Libertad. On the way to Surf City road will allow higher economic income to the tourist sector.

President Bukele announced that the newly completed road is to be called “Camino a Surf City” or on the way to Surf City.

2022 investment in the Surf City Project

On February 8th, 2022, president Nayib Bukele announced an investment of $100 million to continue positioning the country as a tourist destination.

The investment will include the Surf City initiative and other improvements. It will create water treatment plants, Tourism Police stations, urban corridors, bike paths, tourist boardwalks, viewpoints, and lifeguard towers.

Bukele announced that they will continue to organize surfing tournaments to promote the country’s beaches. But this time, not only in the central zone but also in the eastern part of the country.

The surf tournaments held thus far have earned El Salvador millions in foreign money and have attracted additional visitors.

Improving International Travel Logistics to Surf City El Salvador

El Salvador finished an expansion to the international airport. This will make it easier for tourists to visit El Salvador and its famous beaches in the Surf City project.

The Salvadoran government is making considerable investments to improve the logistics of getting to tourist locations.

In 2021, El Salvador completed the Surf City highway that makes it easy to move between the beaches, the international airport, and the nation’s capital.

In 2022 the expansion to the international airport was completed; this will help with travel logistics and will also entice more airlines to include travel routes to El Salvador.

Surf City El Salvador.
Surf City El Salvador. Photo by @CEPASV

Surf City El Salvador, Looking to Change Worldwide’s Perception of El Salvador

From the start, Nayib Bukele explained that he wanted to use surf to change the perception people worldwide have of El Salvador; therefore, he pushed for the creation of Surf City.

With Surf City El Salvador, Bukele and his Cabinet attempt to improve the country’s image abroad, which usually revolves around violence, gangs, and forced migration.

The Surf City project started in 2019; thus far, it has helped El Salvador show a different side often overshadowed by its history.

The surf tournaments held in El Salvador have brought tourists that otherwise might have never visited.

These new visitors have shared their experiences and have demonstrated that El Salvador is a safe country to visit and that it has excellent beaches for surfing and relaxation.


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