Calculations for 2006 show that tourism is expected to have grown by 10% this year, totaling 773,398 foreign visitors, according to preliminary numbers provided by the Nicaraguan Tourism Institute (INTUR).
Despite modest growth this year, compared to 17% growth in 2005, the good news is that Nicaragua already surpassed its 2006 tourism goals last year, so any growth at all this year was just icing on the cake.
INTUR expects to reach 1 million annual tourists by 2008.
Income generated by tourism this year is expected to have grown even faster, finishing the year at $239 million, up $53 million from last year, INTUR calculates.
In order for tourism to continue as the driving engine of the economy, the country needs to invest more money in promotion, INTUR president María Nelly Rívas told The Nica Times in August.
With an annual budget of $1.2 million, Nicaragua spends just a fraction of what its neighbors spend on tourism promotion. Costa Rica, for example, spent more than $20 million on tourism last year.