It seems like every time there is some sort of news regarding tourism there are two or three different, often times conflicting, stories. On Tuesday, March 25, 2014 alone tourism was lauded as in a major growth mode and will provide many new direct as well as indirect job opportunities….soon.
Other reputable sources, such hoteliers say that hard hit tourist areas to the “north” are gasping to stay alive as more and more hotels fend off foreclosure while trying to obtain financial relief from lenders. Not to mention one expert organization completed a survey some time ago among tourist related businesses and those results show that some 70% will not be hiring more people in 2014.
Resulting from a news conference January 16, 2014, according to the global news service EFE, the 2013 number of tourists who visited Costa Rica jumped 3.6% over 2012 to reach 2.42 million people. This, in turn generated about $2.43 billion in new revenue.
A reason to celebrate?
But wait, it is estimated that only 1.6 million folks came by plane while 800,000 arrived by land. The Perpetual Tourist who leaves Costa Rica every 90 days just to renew his/her visa for another 90 day stint and the cruise ship visitor need to be looked at with a jaundiced eye when we run the numbers.
Far more than not the Perpetual Tourists do hold jobs at resorts, smaller hotels, beach rentals thereby taking employment away from locals who truly need the work. Some 90 day wonders can be found employed by sport books and some in customer service/sales organizations which now proliferate all of Costa Rica. Regardless, these jobs are illegal and this in-and-out immigration skews tourism numbers which has a negative effect on the economy.
Rather than go through those 90 day visa gymnastics, homeowners, validated resident applicants or long term verifiable lessees should have six months to enjoy their abodes without packing up and heading for the border every three months. No, they cannot hold down jobs! They are tourists and not permanent residents. And, “Yes,” they need to pay into the public health care system (CAJA).
For those who come to Costa Rica for a vacation, 90 days of fun should be sufficient since most stay less than a week and go home. No more border crossings for a visa renewal and then be counted once again as a new tourist. Just enjoy our little country and come back again for another visit.
As for the experts, it is just a question of who you want to believe. Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT), CANATUR, National Hotel Association, World Bank, PROCOMER, and so on…