Nicaragua’s Minister of Tourism
Juan David Latorre
Anasha Campbell assures that “Nicaragua offers authentic, original and unique experiences to all the tourists who come to our country”. Likewise, within the framework of FITUR 2020, she expressed her desire to inaugurate direct flights with Spain as soon as possible.
Nicaragua is not a traditional destination. What can offer to the visitors?
It is an emerging destination and it has a great variety of tourist places and cities as well. Nicaragua is a country that perhaps people know best for its volcanoes or colonial mansions, but Nicaragua is much more than that. It has coasts in the Pacific and the Caribbean for those who love water activities like sport fishing or surfing and they can do it in the Pacific, in the crater lakes and in the Caribbean. The tourist also has the facility to move quickly from a sun and beach destination in the Pacific with its sand of volcanic origin, by the colonial cities, like Granada, by the volcanoes, like the Masaya, and enjoy its lava lake, or the volcanoes Concepcion and Maderas, both on the island of Ometepe, the only island in the world with two volcanoes, named World Heritage by UNESCO in 2010. In the north you can enjoy the mountains, the tobacco or our coffee, one of the most awarded worldwide; forests, jungle, more than 700 species of birds, 72 protected areas, not including private wildlife reserves. And added to all this the cultural richness with a mixture of the indigenous influence with the European and Afro-Caribbean. What sets us apart from other countries in the world is our hospitable and friendly people, that human warmth that makes you feel like a Nicaraguan.
What is the level of tourist infrastructure and transport network throughout your country?
Our road network is one of the best in Latin America. Throughout these 3 years, the government has made a lot of investment in terms of those structures, but not only in terms of roads but also in terms of health, with more than 18 hospitals that have been built and 97% of the country has electric power, with special attention to renewable energies. Also in terms of telecommunications, practically all our municipalities can be connected because they have also invested in broadband. In terms of hotel infrastructure, our capacity is more based (80%) on micro, small and medium enterprises. These are boutique hotels, each with its own personality but with the quality required. There is luxury tourism, but also for medium or low incomes. Last year, the road linking the Pacific to the Caribbean was inaugurated, something fundamental because it constitutes a restitution of rights for a region mistreated by previous regimes, providing a great improvement in the quality of life for our population.
With regard to connectivity with Spain, we are working to have direct flights between the two countries. At present, Spanish tourists who wish to visit our country usually stop over in Panama, Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador or Guatemala.
How is the issue of security and social and political stability in Nicaragua?
Nicaragua continues to be the safest country in the region, according to studies carried out by the World Economic Forum and the United Nations Office on Crime and Delinquency, which highlight the security situation in my country. Crime rates in Nicaragua are three times lower than in the Central American region. Visitors and tourists have always emphasized in their visit to our country that security they feel when visiting Nicaragua and being able to walk or cycle through our cities. As for the political and social issue, since the end of 2018 tranquility has returned after the period of conflict experienced since April of that year. We Nicaraguans have decided to walk the road to peace and to return to the tranquility and development that our country had until before April 2018. We have a tourism industry that is recovering, although our goal is to surpass the figures of 2017 in which Nicaragua managed to place itself among the top 10 destinations with the fastest growth in tourist arrivals.
If you had only one week to visit Nicaragua, what would be your ideal route?
I would arrive at Managua’s international airport and tour its historic center, the Salvador Allende Tourist Port, that is, the entire Malecón of Managua, with a varied offer in terms of gastronomy, with models of what the city was like before the 1972 earthquake. Then I would go to the city of Masaya, capital of Nicaraguan culture, where I would enjoy its volcano, the Catarina viewpoint and the different handicrafts of the area. I would go to the city of Granada, the colonial city par excellence and the capital of tourism, where you can enjoy not only a neoclassical colonial architecture, but also combines with the natural wealth to have the 365 islands that are in the great lake of Nicaragua. I would follow the route through San Juan del Sur, the mecca of surfing, a party destination, to enjoy sun and beach. I would be on this trip Ometepe, an oasis of peace, or Corn Island, with its Caribbean cuisine. And you would end up in the north, to enjoy a good cup of coffee and also the mountains and their waterfalls in the area of Esteli and the Somoto Canyon.