Whether it’s swimming in Caribbean waters near the Corn Islands, tackling Mombacho Volcano Natural Reserve’s hiking trails or simply kicking back with a cigar, Nicaragua has all the elements of a bucket-list destination.
However, protests regarding social security reforms in 2018 almost scuppered its status as the fastest-growing tourism destination in Central America. In 2017, before the unrest, visitor numbers reached close to two million, 17,500 of whom came from the UK. Last year, British arrivals fell to 8,473.
Since the FCO lifted its travel ban in February, the destination is looking to reinvigorate interest from operators and consumers.
Keen to increase growth from the UK and engage with trade, the Latin American Travel Association (Lata) has partnered with the Nicaraguan Tourism Board and Embassy to launch #NicaraguaIsOpen – a marketing campaign encouraging UK visitors.
Megan Greaves, partnerships and members services manager at Lata, said: “The trade doesn’t know [enough about] what makes Central and Latin America great. There is a real gap in knowledge about this region.”
She hopes the new Nicaragua module with Online Travel Training (OTT) will ensure the trade feels confident selling the destination by highlighting activities, client suitability and connectivity.
“We are also running travel agent roadshows next year in London, Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow to reinforce what Nicaragua is all about,” she added.
Nicaragua and Lata are keen to promote the destination’s Pacific and Caribbean coastlines, which clients can now visit in one trip.
The recent completion of the trans-Nicaraguan highway, running from Bluefields on the Caribbean coast to Managua on the Pacific side, means the 226-mile journey can be completed in six hours, increasing the capacity for self-drive tours.
Ricardo Carioni, deputy ambassador for the Embassy of Nicaragua to the UK, said: “I left Nicaragua in 1999 and have travelled the world, but I’ve yet to find a country as special. Nicaraguans are among the friendliest people in Latin America.”
Flights: British Airways flies from Gatwick to San Jose in Costa Rica in 11 hours. Clients can then take an hour-long Copa Airlines flight to Managua.
Currency: The Nicaraguan cordoba.
Climate: Tropical, reaching 32°C in the rainy season (May-Oct) and 35°C during dry season (Nov-Apr).
Language: Spanish, but English is spoken along the Caribbean coast.