Reducing prices to attract local tourists is the main strategy being used by Nicaraguan tourism entrepreneurs in areas such as Tola, San Juan del Sur and Ometepe Island.

A tourist looks at the town from a church tower in Granada, 45 km from Managua, in May 2018. Almost all of the tourists have fled from Granada, the so-called “Paris of Central America”, since a wave of protests broke out against the government of Daniel Ortega, leading to pillaging and violent clashes that have left dozens of people dead and wounded. / AFP PHOTO / INTI OCON

In Nicaragua, the sharp drop in the flow of tourists as a result of the crisis that has been affecting the country since April has forced entrepreneurs, particularly small and medium-sized ones, to vary their strategies in order to try to generate income and sustain operations.

Martha María Calderón, manager of Hotel Europa, in León, told Elnuevodiario.com.ni that “… before the departure of foreign visitors, they had focused on a strategy to attract national tourists with reduced prices, in order to keep the business that has been operating for more than 50 years open.”

Staying at Hotel Europa cost between US$30 and US$35 dollars (960 and 1,100 Córdobas) before April, but after the socio-political crisis that broke out in Nicaragua, they are now charging between 500 and 800 Córdobas. The discount is part of a strategy of tourism entrepreneurs to attract national tourists, in the absence of foreign visitors.

Reyna Triguero, president of the Chamber of Micro, Small and Medium Tourist Enterprises (Cantur) in the municipality of San Juan del Sur, said that “… the plan consists of offering alternative tourism at a low cost,” but always maintaining the security and quality of accommodation products and services’. The dynamics used by tourism entrepreneurs include promotions on drinks and food, discounts of up to 50% in accommodation services, low-cost family tour packages and changes to the gastronomic offer in restaurants.”

“In the midst of this sociopolitical crisis that Nicaragua is experiencing, the national tourist has also been affected and our strategy to come to enjoy our beaches and reactivate the economy of these areas, is to lower the prices of our services,” he said.

The Casa de Oro hotel, in San Juan del Sur.

According to Triguero, after the decrease of foreign tourists in San Juan del Sur, hotel occupancy fell by 80% and said that on average they rent a room every three days.

“The influx of foreigners here is minimal and that is why we are betting on conquering the national tourists who come on weekends, and as it is another segment, we have modified the menus of the restaurants, the price of beers has dropped by 50. %, like the hosting service and there are many promotions of drinks and meals,” he said.

For his part, Alessandro Rizzo, an Italian national and owner of a restaurant in Granada, said that they have reduced costs for customers, but even that is not enough.

“The profits are very small at this time. There are days that we do not open and the staff must be constantly on vacation, because we are not generating income. We came to Nicaragua three years ago with the dream of investing and now what we live is a nightmare that we never imagined living,” Rizzo added.

A waiter carries chairs outside an empty restaurant in Granada, on Calle La Calzada. AFP PHOTO / INTI OCON

César Arteaga, an American businessman and owner of a hostel in Granada, said that they will re-promote the city as one of the most beautiful and safest places in the country.

We are working on a quality route so that visitors can travel without fear, we will invest in Marketing and we will work hand in hand with other companies to reactivate tourism, “he explained.

 

Article originally appeared on Today Nicaragua and is republished here with permission.