MANAGUA – Nicaragua stands to lose some US$400 million in tourism income due to the now five-month-long socio-political crisis blamed for hundreds of deaths and thousands injured, highlights a report presented Thursday by the Cámara Nacional de Turismo de Nicaragua (Canatur) – National Tourism Chamber.
Canatur had projected US$1 billion in tourism income for 2018, but according to an analysis by the Business Development Center, some 600,000 tourists will not come to Nicaragua “if insecure conditions persist,” chamber president Lucy Valenti said.
“The decline in visits will last for four years. It will be impossible to get to the goal of 2 million visitors,” she said.
Valenti added that tourism in Nicaragua fell back three to four years due to the impact of the crisis, losing 57% of jobs,
“We went back between three and four years compared to the growth we have had in recent years. We are going to go back to 2015, ” Valenti told a press conference. “Canatur found that 87% of Nicaragua’s tourism firms are in survival mode.”
According to Canatur, the tourism sector lost approximately 68,400 jobs and some 16,000 have seen their hours reduced as tourism operators try to avoid collapse.
“We estimate that national losses have been US$200 million during the four months of crisis,” Valenti said.
The report estimates that some US$400 million would be lost compared to last year and US$500 million compared to this year’s targets.
“As long as there is not a full security climate there will be no improvement because every tourist seeks tranquility,” said the Canatur chief.
To change this negative trend, 91% of the member companies of Canatur consider it essential to overcome the crisis, since the negative impact will not only be for the country, but for the region, where Nicaragua is part of the multi-destination offer.
Since the crisis broke out, however, Nicaragua has been left out of this multi-destination offer in Central America, which will affect the arrival of tourists for the next three years, industry members estimate.
The Canatur report takes in the response of 190 companies, based on the first 100 days of the crisis that Nicaragua faced since April 18.
Valenti detailed that the report has a focus on the territories of greatest tourism activity and was carried out in more than 29 municipalities and 14 departments across the country. The survey has a margin of error of 5%.
Canatur is preparing a strategy to face the crisis and that they have several proposals from international companies, but they require security conditions, which include the disappearance of vigilante groups and illegal detentions.
Nicaragua is in the midst of a crisis that has included massive protests against the Daniel Ortega government and a total of between 322 and 481 deaths, according to human rights organizations, although the government claims that “only” 198 people have died.
In an interview with EFE in Managua, Ortega denied repressing protests by force, said that he isl responsible for the deaths in recent months and blamed the United State and drug traffickers for financing, backing and arming violent groups.