FITUR 2023 kicked off the season of events to search for new projects and promote the world's tourist destinations. We spoke with Anasha Campbell, Co-Director of INTUR, to find out what the year is going to be like for Nicaragua.
What meaning does participation in an event of the magnitude of FITUR have for you?
It is one of the most important in the world and being present is very important because it allows us to position Nicaragua as a tourist destination, making our destination known and negotiating with the European market. Today, more than ever after the pandemic, it allowed us to have this interaction and contact in person. In addition, Spain is one of our central markets in Europe and represents the doors to Europe. The European market for many years was our main source market for tourists to Nicaragua. Then that was reversed because for a couple of years now it's been Germany, the UK and Spain has been in third place. Right now there is Germany, there is the United Kingdom, France and then Spain,
Speaking of the country, which destinations are preferred by tourists from Europe in general?
Tours to Granada, for example, is one of our colonial destinations and the volcanoes attract a lot. There is no tourist who does not visit the volcano, apart from the fact that it is a volcano that has a lake of live lava, or who does not visit the youngest volcano in Central America, the zero black volcano. The Caribbean also has beaches that attract a lot, which are the most visited in our country, such as San Juan del Sur and Ometepec, which is the largest island with a freshwater lake made up of two volcanoes and which is also a biosphere reserve. , a true wonder of the world. I think these are the favorite destinations for our European tourists, but destinations like Matagalpa, especially the attraction of the black forest and the white waterfall, which are destinations with a slightly more pleasant climate where you can enjoy the entire process of cultivation until the production of coffee and taste a cup of coffee. So, I think that Nicaragua really offers you a large number of activities in a short time and in a space where, thanks to the good land connectivity that we have, we have the best roads in the region and Central America. We are the safest country in the region and that provides facilities for tourists because they can quickly move from a sun and beach destination to a colonial city, to climb a volcano, to go north to enjoy the mountains, waterfalls, coffee , tobacco or go to the Caribbean and get to know another part of our Nicaragua. We are a multi-ethnic country,
Taking into account that we are in January starting a new season, what expectations do you have regarding 2023?
In 2022, despite not having the final figures for December, we closed at 65% compared to 2019. This year, 2023, expectations are very positive, we believe that we will reach the numbers of 2019 or probably exceed them, since also in these In recent months, air connectivity has been recovered, which was one of the challenges we faced last year, but four airlines were reactivated with their flights as of November and December and January. There is even a new one that now makes flights from San José to Managua. So, taking that into account, we think that obviously this 2023 probably. The interesting thing is to see the generation of foreign exchange that we believe that the foreign exchange generation of last year was probably quite close to the figures of 2019. That is, we have not yet reached the number of tourists that in 2019, but in terms of foreign exchange generation we have probably already reached or surpassed it. Average daily spending also improved.
So for us only very positive news, the sector in general has great expectations with this year 2023 and also added to the infrastructure works that are being carried out in the country to promote tourism action. Right now, for example, last year the expansion of the road was inaugurated in Granada, the Paseo de la Gran Santa Ana, in Catarina the viewpoint is being remodeled and the Tipitapa hot springs are also being remodeled. Actually, in each of the municipalities of the country there is a project that is being carried out to guarantee that healthy recreation, the recreation of our population, but also the enjoyment of our tourists and visitors.
Today we are in Fitur, but the event season has just begun. What initiatives are you going to put into practice regarding international promotion?
We will be participating in 24 international fairs in Europe, North America, Latin America. For us the North American market is important because it is one of the first emitters of tourists to the country along with Central America. In addition, we have an agenda of more than ten destination presentation missions with Nicaragua, the majority in the US market, but also in Central America, which is where we go and are accompanied by protagonists and businessmen from the private sector to present our offer first-hand.
Beyond this topic, obviously, we are planning to carry out press familiarization trips so that people can go and see first-hand our offer and see how tourism is in Nicaragua. We also have a number of digital campaigns, advertising on the radio, in cinemas, in places like Times Square, in some airports in Canada. The plan is to be able to hold the International Tourism Fair in Nicaragua this year or next. It will probably be next year and we hope to be able to have the edition of the fair that we did in 2019, but due to the pandemic we could not hold it in the following years. We are going to give it continuity and we will surely organize this fair to receive operators and the media.
We are also going to carry out training and webinars so that international operators can learn about the country's offer because the reality is that there is a lot of new labor. That is what we will do in addition to the traditional, such as participation in international tourism meetings and events such as the UNWTO General Assembly, the meetings of the Central American Tourism Council, among others in which Nicaragua is always present.