Nicaragua is hoping for an upswing UK tourists after a ban on all but essential travel was lifted.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office made the change on Friday and instead advises visitors to exercise a high degree of caution.
The central American country has suffered from unrest and street violence for almost a year, a period which led to 325 people being killed.
The FCO’s revised travel advice says: “The situation is now quieter but underlying tensions could erupt into further violence and disorder without warning.
“Earlier in the crisis, heavily armed pro-government groups patrolled frequently. Whilst they appear to be less active, you should remain vigilant.
“In the early months of the crisis, there was use of tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition resulting in serious injuries and, according to UN and other reports, over 325 deaths.
“You should stay well away from all demonstrations and gatherings, even if apparently peaceful. There are severe restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly. Marches, demonstrations and other expressions of opposition are no longer permitted.
“Hundreds of people have been detained as a result of the protests and such events have escalated into violence in the past.
“It is against Nicaraguan immigration law for foreigners to involve themselves in local politics and you may put yourself at risk of arrest if taking part in protests, breaches of the peace, or other activity that could be perceived as acting against the government.”
The country had seen a 19% rise in international travellers in 2017 but this dropped due to the unrest and the FCO restrictions.
However, tour operators are now looking to return, paving a way towards tourism recovery.
Journey Latin America immediately announced plans to reintroduce holidays and escorted group tours to the destination.
Head of product Stuart Whittington said: “Nicaragua’s landscape of lakes and volcanoes, lush rainforest and palm-fringed beaches makes it a nature lover’s paradise. A return to tourism is a positive step and will bring much-needed respite to the local economy.”
The operator is conducting a complete review of its product range and services it offers in Nicaragua, including hotels, transfers, car hire and excursions.
It has announced the relaunch of its 10 day Signature Nicaragua: Fire, Water and Revolution holiday, from £2,692, visiting Spanish colonial cities, Granada and León, Ometepe Island with its twin volcanoes, Rio San Juan and the fortress of El Castillo.
From May, the operator will include the destination in its escorted group tours, Alción: Central America Discovery; Tropicbird: Highlights of Central America; and Cotinga: Off the beaten track Nicaragua.
The Latin American Travel Association said it was continuing to monitor the situation in Nicaragua, working closely with the Nicaraguan Tourist Board as well as accredited travel companies operating in the region to provide up-to-date information on the current travel situation.
Lata chairman Colin Stewart said: “Nicaragua has a diverse tourism offering blending volcanic landscapes with Spanish and British colonial architecture, remote islands, Pacific and Caribbean beaches and pristine rainforests making it a top destination for intrepid travellers.
“At Lata, whilst we would urge travellers to follow FCO advice, we feel confident that this change in guidelines will help put the destination back on the map and encourage renewed tourism growth, thus benefitting travellers and the local Nicaraguan travel industry.”
Nicaragua tourism minister Anasha Campbell added: “Nicaragua, located in the heart of the Americas, is a destination bursting with the rich culture of its multilingual and multi-ethnic communities, with their exquisite gastronomy and seductive music, traditions and colours.
“Our biggest asset are our charming and hardworking people, who welcome British travellers with warm and open arms, inviting them to discover the breathtaking geography, with unspoilt beaches, tropical forests, lakes, lagoons and millenary volcanoes, with exuberant flora and fauna, where caring for nature, conscious and sustainable travel underpin our ecotourism practices.”
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