The opportunities offered by tourism in Nicaragua are extraordinary, each year the sector has recorded growth, but for this growth to be sustainable in the long term, it is necessary to make adjustments in the concept of tourism development and growth.
All countries are doing this, and preferences of travelers also change, so we are faced with a competition with similar products that are currently offered by the country. In this context there are many options to take advantage of the growth of world tourism, which even also involves changing paradigms.
Ian Coronel Kinloch, project manager of tourism of the Pellas Foundation Business Center, makes a quick analysis of the situation of the sector and the challenges to be faced and overcome.
We are a tourist country where tourism revenue grows, what is the potential we have and how we are taking advantage?
First of all it should be noted that we are beginning the expansion phase, so we have to ask: what do we want? It has barely begun work on the tourist corridor of the Pacific. Most regions do not enjoy permanent attention with its tourist flow because of this, the Pellas Foundation Business Center (acronym FCEP in Spanish) has been specializing in tourism as a tool to improve opportunities and to be sustainable. Sustainability is a term we give to entrepreneurs that generate their own abilities and not rely on permanent cooperation, they learn to improve over time not only economically, but also environmentally and socially.
A change in welfare mentality by a business person?
We are born with the view that cooperation is paternalism. That is, not only want to see results from use of the funds, but the continuation of these funds. Cooperation previously, I think, did not fit sometimes the needs of the country or was not impinged on by the country and that meant that many resources are lost.
It is this government that a combination of elements where cooperation is starting to raise the logic of those funds, where there is more interest from these results, the government is concerned that the real needs of Nicaragua are not being addressed from the perspective of the nation as a given country, because previously they came prepackaged, and as it was free money, that they received and perhaps not what we needed, and such cooperation did us more harm than benefited us. Thus we see how much infrastructure is abandoned or how many projects were closed the same day that cooperation ended because there was a marked paternalism.
In this context, how then you see the relationship of cooperation, the government and the private sector?
Here are two things, we understand and improve the capabilities or we destroy ourselves with vain ideologies and perspectives, when what matters is that we begin to build a country of opportunities. How this is achieved with the consensus of all parties. We never before have we had an opening like we have with this government in tourism. Not only because we receive, but things are done, opinion and things are resolved in an easier, softer way towards the benefit of tourism is requested.
In so far this year there have been strong volcanic eruptions, which scare away tourism rather seems that attracts more, it’s almost crazy.
I think about this situation, there is an interesting reference, is in Costa Rica, El Arenal volcano, around which a pole of tourism development with almost 800,000 tourists who visited was created. a whole tourism development first world around the volcano, the hot springs and volcanic entire force was created. And what happened? The volcano went off and with it went its flagship product.We are being blessed by four volcanoes that are erupting there, especially the Momotombo, which has been active, but has not harmed or hurt anyone, but is doing a wonderful natural show that it is a volcanic eruption. We did emphasis on the surrounding communities to prepare before eventualities, but also have conditions for people who want to reach. Tourism companies start making packages (tours) because instead of scaring away visitors, the volcanoes create magic for visitors and every time a volcano erupts, visits increase, why? By the overflowing of the uncontrollable force of nature.
Our tourism has developed around the same destinations in the Pacific, but we have many more, the Caribbean, lakes
Look, it is logical because the tourism incursion began belatedly, in the late 90s, there was a flash of development, it means something to the country’s economy, that’s logical. But we have been quite there, you have to make great efforts in diversifying the country, most investments are hotels, restaurants, bars and that sort of thing. You do not have another area you need to visit and complementarity for your main products. How is this? For example San Juan del Sur offers fishing, surfing, sun and beach, while in other Central American countries offer up to 30 different activities. Allowing more you stay, the more expense. We need to incorporate other regions, such as the center of the country. Chontales, one of them, which with the opening of the road are no longer isolated those areas, and especially because all the flow of people coming through Peñas Blancas, Las Manos and other known places. Now we have put Las Tabillas, Chontales on the map. As you get to Chontales, you are in an area about equal to the second richest area of Costa Rica, which are the northern plains, San Carlos, Ciudad Quesada, you have an economic impact.
Boost rural tourism
There are many farms in Nicaragua with enormous potential and are not used by the mentality of the owner. We also need the complementarity of the Caribbean. It’s like a painting without glass, without frame, if we fail to file a multicultural identity, we are failing in Nicaragua because we are not integrating the country as a destination, we are not posing as a unique destination of Nicaragua and can not be and you can not charge you all to the same destination. We have beautiful destinations in the Caribbean, Pearl Lagoon, Pearl Cays, there are many places on the coast: the idiosyncrasy, dances, food, the cultural wealth not’re taking advantage of a series of factors, not seize it as we should.
Of all the tourist potential we have, how much is taking advantage?
I think we’re not using 25 percent of the country’s potential. View here we have spelunking, paragliders, permanent balloon rides, the uses of rural tourism, as in Argentina or Spain. Because the concept that wanted to sell and has been blamed for many foreign consultants is that exploit poverty, because that receive funding. Many NGOs have profited presenting poverty from rural tourism, in almost an animation of poverty. And that no rural tourism. It is to promote rural tourism, cultural performing capabilities of a rural specific area for the enjoyment of residents and tourists there.
In Costa Esmeralda, an airport was built, we speak of other types of tourists, another segment?
Costa Esmeralda, Guacalito, Iguana, Rancho Santana and Bucanero is an area of greatest potential for growth at the end of the highest line had the problem was that tourists do not like to travel two hours on a road that is half bad. These things not only done to potentiate the area but it is a very interesting move, because it connects the Oduber Quiroz (Costa Rica) airport with more flight frequency Augusto C. Sandino Airport. So now you can make direct connections with Europe and the United States before or dreamed as a traveler. Now I as a traveler I go to the airport and go to certain parts of Europe directly. What is important not only that the top level of tourism development, but also access.
Has Cuba is an emerging destination, there are risks to the national or regional tourism?
The main risk is to the Caribbean islands: Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, St. Vincent, all those islands that depend on tourism are seriously concerned about the increasingly realistic approach and will give. Because yes strikes you immediately. First because America is like Girlfriends and will see and you can not touch. That was the romance with the Caribbean, all the stars and celebrities, who missed politics.
Then come the more established destinations such as Costa Rica in certain areas, as in others have greater positioning as sustainability and can withstand the onslaught. And then come those who want to climb into the fray. What is important? We do not use a single product to let us know. Sun and beach where there is more market and more market where there for more years, where there is more competition, price, scenic beauty, they have more than us.