San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

“Survivor” helps redefine country’s image in U.S.

Year in Review

Nicaragua got a U.S. pop-culture makeover this year when the hit reality TV show “Survivor” filmed its 21st season on a remote beach south of San Juan del Sur.

The Emmy-award winning series on CBS is still leading the primetime network ratings for Wednesday night, meaning some 13 million U.S. viewers are tuning in each week and getting exposed to a totally different image of Nicaragua – one that tourism boosters and investors hope will partially undo the country’s negative political image.

The series has also meant good press for Nicaragua, generating thousands of articles.

The show is expected to help promote tourism as well as strengthen Nicaragua’s position as a new niche market for reality TV programs.

Nicaragua also hosted a Spanish and Italian version of “Survivor” earlier this year, and Tourism Minister Mario Salinas told The Nica Times in September that several other reality programs – including a second major U.S. reality TV show – are finalizing contract negotiations to shoot here next year.

Nicaragua’s reality TV craze was icing on the cake for the tourism industry this year, which once again maintained a sustained 9.6 percent growth rate throughout the year.

Julio Videa, head of marketing and promotion for the Nicaraguan Tourism Institute, reports that 900,000 tourists had visited Nicaragua by November, and that by Christmas Nicaragua will reach its goal of attracting 1 million annual tourists for the first time ever.

And that’s the best gift Nicaragua’s tourism industry could ask for this year.

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