WASHINGTON, DC, December 19, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/
-- Nicaragua is on track to record double-digit growth in tourism visits this year, considerably higher than the original 6.5 percent growth projected at the beginning of the year, according to Tourism Minister Mario Salinas.
"We registered 11.4 percent 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 percent growth," Salinas told The Nicaragua Dispatch.
Tourism revenue is also up 12.5 percent 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.
Salinas says Nicaragua's Tourism Board (INTUR, for its acronym in Spanish) 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.
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 in Nicaragua next year.
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 percent or more this year. Costa Rica, which reported 7.4 percent 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 percent in October 2011 to 38 percent in October 2012.
Nicaragua was visited by 1,040,000 tourists in 2011 and generated nearly $390 million in tourism revenue. A 10 percent growth rate this year would put Nicaragua slightly above 1.1 million tourists mark.
This article appeared first on The Nicaragua Dispatch.
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