Nicaraguan Tourism Minister Mario Salinas (Left with his daughter), Don Kiki, Nicaragua President's Son Laureano Ortega, Consulate General Luis Martinez, J.L. Salazar and Alberto GutmanNicaragua’s Minister of Tourism Mario Salinas and Laureano Ortega, son of President Daniel Ortega, visited Cuban Crafters to talk cigars and tourism. They were accompanied by the Honorable Luis Martinez, the Nicaraguan Consulate General in Florida. The cigar industry in Nicaragua plays a vital role in their economy. In the tobacco areas of the north economists estimate that nearly 30 percent of the population, about 500,000 people, work directly or indirectly in the cigar industry. Estelí, where we have our farms, is the center of the cigar-producing and tobacco-growing region.

One of the areas Minister Mario Salinas and Laureano Ortega are focusing in on is the potential tourism that the cigar industry can bring to Nicaragua. Cigar tourism has the potential of bringing cigar aficionados from throughout the USA. The tours would bring cigar smokers to cigar factories and tobacco fields, sort of like the wine tours that are conducted in Napa Valley, California. The visitors will have the opportunity to meet the cigar makers, see how the cigars are hand made, sample a variety of different cigars, learn about the local culture and eat the local cuisine.

Cigar Enthusiast, Comedian and Businessman Jamal Hattar with Nicaragua's Tourism Minister Mario Salinas on left and President's Son Laureano Ortega on right.After an enjoyable meeting with “Don Kiki” Berger and J.L. Salazar that included smoking Miami and Nicaragua made cigars, and drinking California wine, the Nicaraguan dignitaries toured the large 20,000 square foot Cuban Crafters facility. They offered their support to the cigar industry and their intentions to assist entities that offer tours for cigar enthusiasts.

Mario Salinas Pasos has been the Tourism Minister of Nicaragua since November 2007. During the 80s, Mario Salinas held the positions of Secretary General for the Ministry of Transportation, Vice-Minister of Air Transport and President of the Tourism Corporation, HOTELINSA. From 1988 to September 1990 he was President of the Tourism Corporation, COTUR. From 1991 to 2007 he was the President of the Sooner Group, a company that develops hotels, tourism and commerce. He was appointed by the President of the Republic of Nicaragua as the new Tourism Minister and President of the Nicaragua Tourist Board (INTUR). Minister Salinas has a degree in Architecture from the University of Naples, Italy and a Post-Graduate Degree in Urban Development from the University of Milan. The Minister’s main objective is the development of sustainable tourism in Nicaragua.

Laureano Ortega is son of Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega and is an advisor to ProNicaragua, a public and private partnership that promotes and facilitates foreign investments in Nicaragua. Laureano is a cigar smoker and recently announced that the Consulate General Office in Miami will house a tourism office in order to promote Nicaragua as a tourist destination. Tourism is the 2nd largest industry in Nicaragua.

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