Nicaragua announces suspension of tourist visas

January 30, 2009

Nicaragua´s tourism sector is celebrating the recent announcement that the government of President Daniel Ortega is going to lift all visa requirements for foreign travelers as an incentive to boost tourism here.

The announcement was made several days ago by Tourism Minister Mario Salinas during the FITUR international tourism trade fair in Spain. President Ortega is expected to sign the measure this week, according to sources at the Nicaraguan Tourism Institute (INTUR).

Once the measure is signed, all tourists – regardless of nationality – will be able to visit Nicaragua without a visa. Industry sources expect the number of Costa Rican tourists alone could double as a result of the measure.

“This is a very important accomplishment,” said Lucy Valenti, president of the Nicaraguan Tourism Chamber. She noted that when former President Arnoldo Alemán temporarily lifted tourist visa requirements for Costa Ricans in the mid 1990s, the number of Tico tourists coming to Nicaragua immediately increased by 40-50 percent.

Those numbers fell off once the visa requirement was reinstated several years later.

In addition to luring more tourists from Costa Rica, the visa suspension will also help facilitate the arrival of more tourists from Asia, several countries in South America, such as Colombia, and emerging European markets, such as Russia, Valenti said.

More established tourism markets, such as the United States, Canada, the European Union, and other CA-4 countries ( Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador ) won´t be affected by the measure, since they didn´t have tourism visa requirements in the first place.

The suspension of tourism visas will also not affect the $5 tourist card that all tourists must purchase upon entering the country.

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