An interview with Ana Carolina Garcia, Director of Promotion and Market Development for Nicaragua’s Tourism Institute (INTUR)

 

“Sustainability is not only about protecting our environment, it’s also about taking advantage of what we already have”

Dianova has taken a step forward in its commitment to the Millennium Development Goals and to the Agenda post-2015 by signing a collaboration agreement with ‘Rutas Escondidas’ a Nicaragua-based responsible tourism company dedicated to promoting environment-friendly tourism practices while engaging with local producers and communities.

The agreement provides for establishing an annual work and collaboration program aiming at promoting Nicaragua as a destination of interest to groups, organizations and companies eager to promote a sustainable human development.

This promotion campaign will take place in countries of Europe and the Americas where the Dianova Network maintains operations, i.e. in Spain, Italy, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Chile, Uruguay, USA and Canada. In addition, this collaboration agreement aims to foster the development of the ‘Europeo Hotel’ in Nicaragua’s capital city, Managua. Run by the Dianova Nicaragua Foundation, member of the Dianova Network, the ‘Europeo Hotel’ donates all of its profits to fund social community development projects – an initiative that also involves ‘Rutas Escondidas’ responsible tourism company.

The Mission of the Nicaraguan Institute of Tourism (INTUR) is to advance the sustainable development of the country’s tourism sector by strengthening its potential as a tourist destination. INTUR intends to manage policies, strategies and projects more effectively so as to contribute to reducing poverty and improving the quality of life of Nicaraguans.

The Institute’s principal mandates include: positioning Nicaragua within regional, national and international markets; promoting high-quality tourism, capable of playing a key role against substance abuse and the exploitation of children; fostering the rights for all Nicaraguans to have access to healthy leisure activities; promoting the improvement of quality products and competitiveness of tourism services, and; expanding and diversifying the tourist offer, among others.

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Laguna de perlas Corn Island Ometepe

What are the cornerstones of Nicaragua’s plan for the development of sustainable tourism?

Since 2010, we’ve been working on a tourism development plan with a special focus on sustainability through the various products that our country offers.

Our main lines of action are adapted to each one of our entrepreneurs to make their products more sustainable. We have resources, we have a multi-facetted country, rich in contrasts, and this enables us to develop sustainable tourism practices. Our main line of work is therefore to maintain or implement sustainability in all of our actions – sustainability, as we understand it, is not only about protecting the environment, it is also about taking advantage of what we already have. I think we are on the right track, actually we’re now in the process of designing a new development plan which main focus will be the sustainability of tourism in our country.

An organization was implemented in Nicaragua, TOPS, which represents tour operators dedicated to promote sustainable tourism in our country. All their offers are different but all of them are centered on sustainability.

How does tourism relate to poverty eradication in Nicaragua?

Poverty eradication is one of the main focus areas of our government. As we are an emerging country with regard to tourism, we’ve been working on it for only a few years, in addition we’re working with our own resources to develop tourism while connecting with local communities. We have been preparing ourselves through territorial tourism cabinets, departmental offices and through the private sector. Eventually we have created a commission dedicated to improving and developing the country’s economic development with the participation of the communities. People are very involved and excited, they want to know more, they want to train and educate themselves. Sharing a common culture holds a great potential for us all; this culture has led us to work better towards poverty eradication. We are now on the verge of success, as a country.

What do you think of the alliances or partnerships between social organizations such as Dianova, and the private sector in the objective of developing tourism and supporting local communities?

In this task, we’ve got to go hand in hand not only with the private sector, but also with various people and communities eager to develop this type of tourism. Many communities have made efficient partnerships resulting in their reinforcement through the development of social tourism practices. We are now conveying clear messages to support and accompany these partnerships between communities and the private sector.

Could you tell us a word of phrase that would define Nicaragua, from the tourism aspect?

We do have a sentence which defines tourism: Nicaragua is unique and original, its culture is based on authenticity and above all Nicaraguans are a generous and welcoming people.