Tourism to Nicaragua is “recovering very rapidly” following the political unrest and subsequent travel ban by the British Foreign Office.
Nicaragua’s minister of tourism, Anasha Campbell, in London speaking to TTG revealed tourism arrival figures were down by 29.7% year-on-year in 2018. However, forward bookings for October to December 2019 were up by 98% compared with 2018.
Before the political crisis that began in April 2018 and the FCO travel ban, tourism numbers were flourishing, Campbell said. In 2017, the country experienced its “best year” and its 11th year of growth, as well as a surge in tourism numbers of 18.8%.
“In the first three months of 2018, there was a 12.5% growth in tourism arrivals,” she added.
The FCO ban was lifted in February 2019 and Campbell said due to a “progressive reactivation of the industry” – which included a “Nicaragua is open” marketing campaign created in association with the Latin American Travel Association (LATA).
The country’s focus for 2020 is to “continue strengthening the international promotion strategy”, homing in on the key source markets of Central America, North America, Germany, the UK, and Spain.
The main source market for Nicaragua tourism is Central America, with 70% of travelers, followed by 24% from North America and 6% from Europe.
Campbell acknowledged the socio-political crisis and ensuing FCO travel ban “had an impact on the perceptions of Nicaragua”.
However, she said she was keen to highlight the country’s safety record and a survey by the World Economic Forum released earlier this year, which named Nicaragua as the safest country in Central America.
Campbell explained the country was still in talks with Iberia to potentially secure a direct flight route from Europe to Nicaragua, with plans scuppered by last year’s political unrest.
Two new flight routes were added from Havana to Managua this year, with Aruba Airlines and Conviasa Airlines. Campbell said the flights would appeal to travellers planning a multi-destination Central American trip.