Nicaragua exceeds one mn foreign tourists for first time

Last Updated: Thu, Dec 30, 2010 05:30 hrs

Managua, Dec 30 (IANS/EFE) More than one million foreign tourists visited Nicaragua this year, the first time that the country has exceeded that figure and an 8 percent increase with respect to 2009, authorities said.

Nicaraguan Tourism Institute, or Intur, president Mario Salinas told reporters Wednesday that they expect 1.01 million foreign visitors to have come to Nicaragua by the end of this year, an 8.4 percent increase compared to last year.

According to official figures, in 2009, 931,904 foreign tourists visited Nicaragua, 8.6 percent more than the number who came to the country in 2008.

The increase in foreign tourists is due to the fact that Nicaragua 'is perceived as an interesting destination on the international level', Salinas said.

'All that means a great message that Nicaragua has launched to the world: of opening, security, confidence and it is being received more and more' by potential tourists abroad, he added.

He said that 60 percent of the tourists who visit Nicaragua come from the rest of Central America, mainly from Honduras, followed by the US, Canada and the European Union.

Salinas emphasised that this year the average stay in the country for tourists was 7.3 days and they each spent an average of $50 per day.

He calculated that the income generated by foreign tourism in Nicaragua, the second-poorest country in the hemisphere, will total by the end of the year 4.7 percent more than was taken in during 2009.

This year, authorities expect to register gross income of $360 million from foreign tourism, compared with $345.9 million garnered in 2009, Salinas said.