TODAY NICARAGUA – After several weeks absent, Anasha Campbell, general and administrative co-director of the Nicaraguan Institute of Tourism (Intur), reappeared this Wednesday in a propaganda medium of the Daniel Ortega regime in which far from showing concern about the dispute that the Government maintains with airlines, dedicated himself to giving optimistic figures in the tourism sector for the long weekend on the occasion of the celebrations of the Immaculate Conception of María.
Of course, she acknowledged that the sector has accumulated a 50% drop until September.
During her speech, Campbell, although she did not directly refer to the conflict with the airlines, which refuse to return to Nicaragua due to unusual measures imposed by the Government, tried to minimize the entry of travelers by air, noting that out of every 10, only 3 entered by the Aeropuerto Internacional Augusto C. Sandino (Managua International airport – MAG).
What Campbell did not say is that these – the air travelers – are the ones who spend the most when compared to those who come across the land borders, who are currently not arriving en masse to Nicaragua because of the additional expense that now implies entering the country: must present a negative PCR test for Covid-19.
“We must not lose sight of the fact that historically, for Nicaragua, the land area is where most tourists enter. So by land we are talking about more than 65% of the tourists who visit our country, by air represents 30%, so for us, the influx by land is much more important even than by air,” she warned.
According to the Intur Statistics, in 2018, 1.25 million tourists came to the country. Of that total, 379,216 travelers (30.2%) entered through the Augusto C. Sandino International Airport, compared to 32% of those who arrived via Peñas Blancas (border with Costa Rica); and 18.7% by El Guasaule (border with Honduras).
According to the same report, of the total number of travelers who entered through the Managua airport, 225,873 came from North America, mainly the United States.: 97,751 came from Central America; 35,466 from Europe, and to a lesser extent from South America and other regions of the world.
But they are also the biggest spenders.
For example, in the first quarter of 2018, that is, before the outbreak of the political crisis in April of that year, a tourist who entered through the airport spent US$96.1 dollars on average per day; while a tourist that came across the border was US$34.6.
This shows the importance of reopening the airport so that tourist venues can reactivate, especially in times when the influx of travelers across the borders is not normal due to the pandemic.
Also in the case of El Salvador and Honduras, another source of tourism in Nicaragua, have been hit by hurricanes Eta and Iota so the probability that they are planning regional tourism is certainly limited.
Also, the countries of the region are betting on helping local tourism by opening airports with softer requirements, which has attracted airlines again, with the exception of Nicaragua, despite the fact that the Managua airport has been open since mid-July.
Intur does expect dynamism
Despite the obstacles to travel from Costa Rica to Nicaragua, due to the new health requirements (PCR test to enter Nicaragua and tourists not permitted entry by land into Costa Rica), the Intur official says they expect good results at the end of this month, basing the optimism on the influx of nationals during the last weekend.
“Yes, we hope that Nicaraguans living abroad will also decide to come and enjoy the Christmas holidays in Nicaragua and spend it with their family, so we have very good expectations for the end of the year 2020 and for the beginning of 2021,” Campbell said.
The main private sector tourism chambers in Nicaragua have complained about the lack of response to the dispute with the airlines and are already fearful of Easter in 2021.
So what does Campbell base her optimism on? The holiday travel typical of December and the indication of the past long weekend, where more Nicaraguans are touring their country.
In San Juan del Sur occupation was estimated at 61%, León exceeded 47% and Isla de Ometepe, in Rivas, more than 40%. Campbell pointed out that in Granada there was no overnight stay for families, but on the issue of food and drink consumption, there was dynamism.
“Families are enjoying tourism more every day, they are looking for destinations that are not so traditional, and destinations where they can enjoy as a family, another interesting thing in San Juan del Sur is that the 61% does not include houses in rent, and now there is a boom with families seeking to rent cabins, rent apartments or houses where they can be in families without having that interaction with other people,“ said Campbell.
“The beaches are another very interesting place, in León for example, they had more than 17,000 people who visited the different beaches of León, apart from the same city, with the theme of the cry,” Campbell said.
In Masaya there was a good influx of tourists, but in terms of overnight stays it was 18% according to the Intur co-director. “We see the results of the policies that the Government of Commander Daniel and Comrade Rosario have been implementing in support of the tourism sector to achieve reactivation, we see positive trends”.
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