Kevin Thompson Reid, the guide who died in a raft accident on Saturday in Quepos, was not registered with the Costa Rican Institute of Tourism (ICT), according to the ICT director of Tourism Management, Gustavo Alvarado.
Thompson Reid, 45, worked for the company Quepoa Expeditions, which organized the rafting adventure in which he and four American tourists died.
Tourism companies are required to have accredited guides to operate, according to the “Operación de Actividades de Turismo de Aventura” (Regulation for the Operation of Adventure Tourism Activities).
Failure to comply with this rule, are subject to Article 355 of the Ley General de Salud (General Health Law), which could involve the closure of the business and the cancellation of their permits.
In the water accident that occurred on Saturday, October, 20, the three rafts, carried 14 tourists from Florida and three guides, overturned into the swollen river.
In addition to Thompson, Ernesto Sierra, Jorge Caso, Sergio Lorenzo, and Andres Denis, all from Florida and between 25 and 35 years old, also died in the accident.
See Cellphone video shows a group of friends from Miami just minutes before the group went out on a river in Costa Rica for a rafting excursion on Local10.com. It was the last video and photo the bachelor party would take together before the rafting trip claimed the lives of five people.
The tourists had arrived in Costa Rica on October 18 for the bachelor party of Luis Beltrán, who survived the accident.
The ICT reported that the relatives of the four deceased foreigners have already arrived in the country.
Meanwhile, the office of Quepoa Expeditions was raided on Sunday by theOrganismo de Investigación Judicial (OIJ), investigating the role of the tour operator in the accident.
OIJ investigative officer, Elioth Barquero, confirmed that on Monday the Fiscalia (Public Prosecutor’s Office) compiled the testimonies of the surviving tourists before they left the country.
The company organizing the tour has the permission of the Ministry of Health, but not with the ICT Tourist Declaration, a non-mandatory accreditation to verify that companies have up-to-date insurance policies and high-quality services.
Rafael Gallo, founder of Rios Tropicales and honorary president of the Asociacion Deportiva de Aventura y Remo, Costa Rica (Costa Rican Rafting Association), warned that in 2002 a “price war” began that deteriorated the safety offered by rafting operators.
“Rafting at great discount prices does not allow any operator to reinvest any profit in continuous staff training or the purchase of more sophisticated equipment. Rather, it causes the entry of low-cost equipment and the investment in human training is reduced to having guides ‘quickly’, with less experience and little training,” Gallo said in a letter published on social networks.
The incident on Saturday “is not only a cause of strong pain, but it will also be a reason to question an activity that millions of people enjoy pleasingly around the world,” he said.
For its part, the Costa Rican Association of Tourism Guides said that the hiring of non-accredited guides “in addition to being illegal”, exposes tourists to situations where it is impossible to confirm whether they have the proper preparation for professional practice.
Source (in Spanish): La Nacion