MANAGUA – More than 709,000 tourists visited Nicaragua last year, representing a 17% growth from 2004 and surpassing the goals set by the National Development Plan, according to official yearend numbers presented last week by the Nicaraguan Tourism Institute (INTUR).
Tourism in 2005 again represented the leading source of income for the economy, generating $186 million, up $19 million from the year before.
The tourism sector is also working to increase competitiveness.
The Tourism Quality System started last year as a pilot program with the goal of eventually becoming a nationwide program to classify all tourism operations and rank their quality of service. And the new Training Bonds Program, which started in January 2005, has already trained 2,742 people in 184 courses, including Tour Guide, Technical English and Small Business Administration.
In addition, 175 Tourism Police were trained and deployed last year in popular destinations such as Carazo, Granada, León,Managua,Masaya and Rivas.
María Rivas, executive president of INTUR, told The Nica Times earlier this month she expects Nicaragua to reach the 1-million annual visitor milestone by 2010.