With the goal of tripling Nicaragua’s paltry tourism-promotion budget, the National Assembly last week approved a reform to the General Law of Tourism that aims to generate an additional $2.5 million in promotional funds.
The extra funds will come from raising the price of tourism visas from $5 to $10, increasing the cost of international airline tickets by $5 and creating a new 2 percent tax on hotel rooms costing over $30 a night. Motels will be taxed an extra $0.30 per room.
Lawmaker Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, member of the National Assembly’s Tourism Commission, told The Nica Times that he calculates the reform could triple Nicaragua’s current promotional budget for tourism, which is around $1.3 million per year. By contrast, neighboring Costa Rica spends around $20 million in tourism promotion each year.
Chamorro said the new funds will be managed by a multi-sector “oversight commission” comprised of INTUR, members of the legislative tourism commission and the private tourism chambers. He said the commission will insure that the money is used transparently, following complaints that INTUR has been using state resources for political rather than promotional purpose.
The tourism tax increases will take effect as soon as the law is signed by President Daniel Ortega and published in the official daily La Gaceta, Chamorro said.