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Nicaragua is Catching up to Costa Rica

From 1963 until 1999, I served as Honorary Consul for the Republic of Costa Rica in the northeastern part of the United States.

Since then, I have been privileged to serve as an Honorary Consul for the Republic of Nicaragua. It has been interesting to note the similarities and the differences between these two Central American neighbors.

Over the years, I watched Costa Rica transform itself from a primarily agricultural community into a widely popular tourist destination. And now Nicaragua is undergoing a similar transition as both a tourist destination and a worldwide competitor in the garment industry.

Both countries have warm, friendly citizens who are hard-working and take great pride in their vocational endeavors. Both Nicaragua and Costa Rica have had recent presidential elections and, with respect to Nicaragua, I’m sure there will now be a major effort on the part of the new administration to create jobs and attract tourists to this beautiful country.

A feature article in a recent edition of the travel section of the Sunday New York Times was entitled “The Rediscovery of Nicaragua” and painted Nicaragua in glowing terms. It describes all parts of the country with wonderful photographs and a wealth of information.

It leaves no question that the country is on the verge of an explosive entry into the worldwide tourism industry.

Some time ago, Costa Rica began to advertise the fact that sports fishermen could find world-record game on both its eastern and western coasts. These same world record fish, however, probably don’t know the difference between the Costa Rican and Nicaraguan coastlines, and my hope is that the Nicaraguan Tourism Institute (INTUR) will begin an aggressive advertising campaign touting Nicaragua’s world-class sport fishing.

As we all know, Costa Rica for the past decade has been on a campaign to build, and, unfortunately, overbuild tourist accommodations.

Now it’s Nicaragua’s turn and one can already see the building boom beginning to take hold.

The present day transformation to modern architecture and North American-type construction is wonderful to observe. A number of Costa Rican companies have opened branches in Nicaragua and there appears to be a growing interest from people and companies from the far east and parts of Europe. Current tax incentives and a stable labor force, coupled with encouraging governmental ministries and agencies, bode well for the future.

With respect to my honorary consulate position, inquiries from U.S. citizens are increasing dramatically and seem to be taking on a pattern. Major U.S. airlines now service Managua on a frequent basis and I provide scheduling information and make recommendations regarding travel agencies that have made an effort to learn more about the country and give sound advice regarding tourist accommodations.

Other inquiries involve information on matters such as climate, interior transportation, quality and availability of medical care and tourist safety. Also, I am fortunate to receive total cooperation from both the Nicaraguan Embassy in Washington, D.C. and the Ministry of Foreign Relations in Managua. My visits to Nicaragua have been rewarding and informative and I hope that circumstances will allow me to visit more frequently in the future.

I also respond to the needs of a surprisingly large Nicaraguan population in my home state of Massachusetts. And we are in touch with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security with respect to custody and immigration matters.

In addition, I am an active participant in the Consular Corp of New England, which gives me collegial connections with almost every major country in the world and an opportunity to extol the many virtues of the country to other members of the Consular Corp.

As Nica Times readers undoubtedly know, there was a horrible tragedy this past November in a small town outside of Granada, in which 12 young people died and many others were severely burned (NT, Nov. 24, 2006). The U.S. State Department airlifted three of the surviving victims and their families to hospitals in Boston and, at the request of the Nicaraguan Embassy, I was able to visit these people and offer some emotional, logistical and financial support.

Needless to say, I take great pride and joy in serving Nicaragua as its Honorary Consul and I invite inquiries from readers of The Nica Times regarding any assistance I can render.

Dr. Sherman E. Fein is the honorary consulof Nicaragua, as well as a clinical psychologist and attorney in Springfield,Massachusetts. To contact Mr. Fein write to:

ShermanE. Fein

Honorary Consulate of Nicaragua

52 Mulberry Street

Springfield, MA01105. USA

Phone: 413-781-5400; Fax: 413-739-0801



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