The difference between Nicaragua’s traditional “high season” and “low season” for tourism is becoming increasingly irrelevant due to factors such as special group events, international conferences and airline promotions, according to the National Tourism Chamber (CANATUR).
“I would say there’s no real difference anymore, and the hotel occupancy rates show it,” says Zenayda Laguna, executive director of CANATUR. “We don’t know when it’s high season or low season anymore.”
Determining Nicaragua’s high season and low season has never been an exact science anyway. The “high season” is typically considered to be November through March, to coincide with the dry season. But recently, Nicaragua’s “low season” has become as unpredictable as the rains.
CANATUR reports that the average hotel occupancy among its members is 63% for the first trimester of 2012, about three percentage points higher than the same period last year.
However, Laguna says, calculating hotel occupancy in Nicaragua is not a punctilious process.
“The numbers we have are from the larger, more serious hotels,” Laguna told The Nicaragua Dispatch. “But many of the smaller hotels have a culture of not reporting their numbers, regardless of whether they are up or down.”
She says the reluctance of many small businesses to report their numbers makes it difficult to measure with great accuracy the varying hotel occupancy rates in different parts of the country.
What is clear is that new tourism businesses are growing quickly in Nicaragua.
The number of micro, small and medium-sized tourism businesses in Nicaragua has more than doubled in the past five years, from 2,526 to 5,867, generating 37,000 new jobs, according to the Nicaraguan Tourism Institute (INTUR). Small businesses now represent 90% of all tourism businesses in Nicaragua.
“Small businesses are the backbone of tourism development in our country,” Tourism Minister Mario Salinas said Monday, according to a report by the EFE wire service.