Nicaragua tourism continues to soar

Tourism on track to grow 10 percent this year

Nicaragua is on track to record double-digit growth in tourism visits this year, considerably higher than the original 6.5% growth projected at the beginning of the year, according to Tourism Minister Mario Salinas.

“We registered 11.4% growth between January and October of this year. While we don’t yet have the final numbers for November and December, we are in high-season months so it is reasonable to expect we could finish with at least 10% growth,” Salinas told The Nicaragua Dispatch.

Tourism revenue is also up 12.5% through September, according to Salinas. So more tourists are visiting Nicaragua and spending more money while they are here.

The tourism minister says Nicaragua’s steady tourism growth is the result of continued work to build and promote the country as a safe tourism destination.

Focused on Growth: Tourism Minister Mario Salinas (photo/ Tim Rogers)

Salinas says Nicaragua’s tourism board (INTUR) will continue to focus its efforts on attracting more tourists from the United States and Canada, because those are the biggest markets with the easiest access to Nicaragua. Still, Central America remains the most important market, representing six of every 10 tourists who visit here, Salinas says.

Following the loss of the short-lived Blue Panorama flight this year, Salinas says a goal for INTUR is to attract more connecting flights in 2013. He says the government is already in communication with one air carrier that is interested in expanding its flights here next year, but wouldn’t mention which one.

If Nicaragua is able to maintain its double-digit tourism growth for 2012, it will be neck and neck with Panama for the fastest-growing market in Central America. Panama’s tourism industry is expected to grow around 10% or more this year. Costa Rica, which reported 7.4% growth during the first half of the year, is now—as of October—reporting a slight drop in its overall hotel occupancy for the year, dipping from 42% in October 2011 to 38% in October 2012.

Nicaragua was visited by 1,040,000 tourists in 2011 and generated nearly $390 million in tourism revenue. A 10% growth rate this year would put Nicaragua slightly above 1.1 million tourists mark—about half the amount of tourists who visit Costa Rica each year.


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  • jose a

    Kudos to INTUR and their marketing team. I have seen their ads and so have my friends this year. They do seem to be working because we have also witnessed more americans here this year.

  • mnelson

    Good show INTUR and all the associations like PRO NICA that contribute to this vital growth of tourism. Of course the best source for continuing growth are the people who actually come to visit or who live here. We (and they) take back messages that multiply in effectiveness because they are believable personal testimonies. That is why stories about the breakdown of the legal system and discourteous traffic police are so harmful.

    I can’t count the number of times visitors have reported negative first impressions of Nicaragua based on their cab trip from the airport to the Metrocenter. This would be high on my list of road and landscaping improvements.

    What would others tell INTUR to think about to improve tourism?

  • Mark Oshinskie

    Demasiada taxistas son piratas.

  • stacy

    Growth? I have a hotel in Nicaragua and tried to reach the guy who is in charge of marketing and never got a response. Maybe he is too busy with all the growth to get back to me.

  • Luis

    Over one million tourists is a huge accomplishment, but Only 390 million in tourism revenue? That is less than 390 per tourist.

    • Raffles

      Have to agree that figure seems awfully low but then how do they even arrive at number of tourists? Do they just count arrivals other than naturalized Nicas? If average stay is 5 days (that seems low) and it’s two people sharing accommodations I guess you could manage on $780.

      My guess is the tourism dollars spent per visitor is more than $390 but not all spent where Government gets reporting on. Nice thing about tourist dollars is that it’s spread around and not concentrated in one place so little guys (who don’t report) get hands on some of it.

  • Devon

    Notice the tourism, it is 6 out of 10 tourists from neighboring Central American countries.

    • Kelvin

      According to Intur, Over 70% of the 690,000 from Central America come from Honduras, EL Salvador and Costa Rica.

      So, all of you in the bars, restaurants or hotels side of the tourism business do a quick poll, at any one time, you should have 6 out of 10 guests from Central America. Where do they all go when they get here?

      Do we need to review the way the stats are prepared?. It seems that quantity and the ‘magic million’ was more important than the daily spending which has dropped 50% over the last several years or so.

      If we can’t attract a more affluent visitor then we are stuck with the “McDonald’s model”.