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Tourist Inflated Cost in Guatemala

Tourist conspicuous consumption is inflating the prices in Panajachel, Guatemala. Tourist are welcome to pay 20 dollars for a pizza, three dollar for coffee, and other ways of proving we are not from Guatemala and rather --- you know -- special.

I boarded a boat over Easter Weekend, and decide to ask this loving Mayan Kaqchikel couple how much I was overpaying because I was a foreigner.

Panajachel, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala --- Tuesday, April 6, 2010
By Andy Graham of


It took some prodding and prying, but I insisted, and did not allow this man to evade the question.

(In Spanish of course.)

He fidgeted in his seat; he evaded the question, and finally answered.
"I am paying 25 Quetzals."
I say,
"That is the same as me!"

He pauses, looks away, I know he wants off the hook; he does not want to talk about it. I then asked,
"How much do you normally pay?"
"15 Quetzals."

He slowly looks at me and say,
"We have to pay more because there are tourists here."

I think to myself, this is not how it is suppose to work, they should have raise the price of the boat to 30 or 40 and allow him to pay his normal 15. I guess that is not the way of the world, I know what my tourist dollars did this Easter Weekend in Guatemala. They forced people who earn 50 times less money than me to pay more.

I cringe every time I see a tourist overpay, I know the end game, the inflation is not going to hurt me, because I am the privileged class.

Tourist Inflated Cost in Guatemala


Money talks, not sure what it says, but it talks.


When I resided in Panajachel and Antigua, mainly I shopped in the market and ate at home, at any rate when I was integrated into local and working ex pat society in Antigua and Pana all the owners and employees of the restaurants knew me, so I never overpayed, never thought about it. Tourism does drive local prices up and all is not
the 'fault' of tourist and traveler from overseas..for example up in Xela in the early 1990s several Spanish schools were established to compete with Antigua, and locals in Xela happily opened their homes for student 'homestay' and board, by the week or month, payment of rent and tuition fees per week in advance. Seems local Guatemalan students or workers would move in, renting a room by month, paying the first month, then fudging on the rent for 3 or 4 months before getting evicted. Locals told me 'locals don't or won't pay' (if they can get away with it) So, foreigners came to Xela, paid more by week and paid in advance, on time.
In Antigua on Sundays and Holidays when the 'capitalinos' from nearby Guate City flood into the colonial town, certain lodging places and eateries have 'capatalino' prices ..higher on those days.
In th 1980s we used to go to Mama Rodriguez's comedor on Calle Santander in Pana, sit on the dirt floor and gorge ourselves on Mapache (Racoon), Mama saved our skins more than once during the early 1980s. Another era, another story.
Sadly, travel destinations and traveler crossroads like Antigua and Pana that offer visitors and ex pats all the amenities is bound to be more expensive and the cost of living higher for those locals not even involved in tourist economy. Business is business, money makes the world go round, so once again what can I say but "G-d grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change and courage to change things I can"
In concert with other concerned locals and working ex pats in early 1990s in Antiguam we ran a 'sting operation' on National Police, phony guides, and corrupt hotel-Spanish school operators who were ripping off travelers, left and right, after those involved were caught and prosecuted, or transferred in case of many Police,
the Guatemalan National Tourist Police were introduced in to Antigua and other destinations. This was done quietly, no fanfare. Life goes on in the tropics.
If one does a good deed, I was taught, then brags all ovet town about, this negates the good deed.
Maybe some of you were taught differently.
Seek out perosns honest in their dealings, anywhere, people are far more important than destinations!


I do not care what tourist pay, I care when locals have to pay more because we are here.

San Pedro has this French Press coffee thing, and sells coffee for 6 Quetzals so coffee taste better and cheaper in San Pedro than in Pana.

However, the large super markets in Pana are cheaper and easier than San Pedro.

When locals need to pay more because I am here, I am not happy, when they earn more I am also happy,

I am going to go the market to see if I can buy raw coffee beans.


Nathalie, right, right on!! Excellent post.

I was born in a 'tourist town' up in New England, USA, as a kid spent many summers there with my paternal Grandparents, an old timer from there visiting my Grandmother, once told us about the 'tourists' or 'summer people' complaining about the high summer rents...says he told all of them...."If you can't stand the Wint-ah heah, then don't complain about the summ-ah prices!"

In Virginia my Dad chose to pay more for a house in the university town we moved to, with good public schools, cultural events, than living far cheaper in the industrial town a few miles east where American football and drinking and drag racing on weekends were the only cultural pastimes.
PS the factories and mills now closed in that other town, which has become "gentrified"

In New York City in the early 1980s we saw our rents skyrocket due to the 'yuppie' invasion


Think Lake atitlan is bad..go to Costa Rica!!!!!