Nicaragua no longer a tourist's paradise as deadly unrests tear down country's business, economy
Economy in poor shape
Nicaragua's economy has been devastated by the nearly five months of unrest sparked by cuts to social security benefits that quickly evolved into calls for President Daniel Ortega to step down. In June, the country's economic activity was down 12.1 percent compared to a year earlier, according to the central bank. The unrest has seen unprecedented violence, claiming over 300 lives so far.
Granada, San Juan del Sur rendered off limits
The country's primary tourist destinations like the colonial gem Granada and the Pacific coast surfer paradise San Juan del Sur began feeling the consequences of the unrest almost immediately.
In Pic: The colonial downtown of the city of Granada and its cathedral
Hotels shutdown amid unrest
Hotels and restaurants cut back hours, then days and eventually closed completely. Revenue at hotels and restaurants plunged 45 percent in June compared to 2017, according to Nicaragua's central bank.
Nicaragua's best haunts going empty
Leon, Nicaragua's second-largest city, was among the places where protests and roadblocks were most intense. Victor Hugo Sevilla, the general manager of both Leon hotels, continues checking email, but said ``I haven't gotten any requests from foreigners for reservations. We have received five, maybe eight, rate inquiries from domestic (travelers), but no firm reservations''.
In Pic: A waiter walks among the empty table of a café in down town Leon, Nicaragua.
200,000 jobs lost
Economists estimate 200,000 jobs have been shed, including as many as 70,000 in the tourism sector, which has become Nicaragua's top source of foreign currency in the past two years.
Downturn in construction & retail
Construction suffered a 35 percent drop and retail 27 percent. Some $900 million in deposits fled Nicaragua's banks. They responded by tightening their lending to preserve liquidity, thus also contributed to the economic slowdown.
Foreign tourists told to avoid Nicaragua
A major factor has been that the countries that send Nicaragua's big-spending foreign tourists, including the US, Canada, Spain and England, issued travel warnings urging their citizens to avoid travel to Nicaragua.
Business leaders decry confiscation of private land
Nicaraguan Union of Agricultural Producers says more than 12,000 acres of private land have been occupied by government supporters in what business leaders have called confiscations in revenge for their support of the protesters.
Nicaragua undertakes damage control measures
The Ortega-led Nicaragua government has issued new debt, adjusted rules to tighten the selling of dollars and cut public spending as it forecasts a 10 percent drop in tax revenue. However, whether any of this will be enough to stop the economy's slide is doubtful unless it's accompanied by a political solution that restores stability, experts said.