QCOSTARICA OP-ED- Pristine white beaches, torques waters, all-inclusive destination hotels, plenty of fresh drinking water, lots of sun….Cuba.

For sure we are not looking at the next few years, but within eight to ten Cuba might well cut into some of Costa Rica’s tourist traffic and we simply cannot afford that. After all, for years we have just sort of laid back and let it come to us with a minimum of effort a condescending attitude.

And now we are increasing taxes on just about every commodity/service which are sure to be passed along to the consumer and, of course the tourist. Put that together with Costa Rica placing last in all Latin America in the Global Competitiveness Index of the World Economic forum in Switzerland and INCAE concurring with the results and we have a problem.

According to Vozdeguanacaste.com the ICT (Tourism Board) shows, “a marked decline in both length of stay of tourists as well as the average consumption during the days they spend in the province, ” has been the 2-14 trend.

In 2011 the average tourist stay was almost 12 nights and during that time the tourists spent about USD$1,200 or $100 per day. The current decline is down to an average stay of 8 nights instead of 12 and the tourist is still spending about $100 per day or Eight hundred dollars..

Put this together with the low score Costa Rica received on the 2014 EF English Proficiency Test (48.5 out of 100 possible points), it seems that we have some work to do before once again being caught flatfooted.

The recent effort at advertising Costa Rica certainly targets mid-level management, white males, a few females and again the talking sloth. I guess the surfers, the adventure tourist, the blue collar workers, fishermen, families, students and people of color just do not have the dollars to visit Costa Rica? So we do not particularly want them here. I mean, if they should show up, great but over $3 million spent on mid-level, harassed managers to just sloth it out for a few days at an all inclusive resort. Yet these are the ones who stay a week or so and go home. Where is the upside for Costa Rica?

The latest Costa Rica government adventure is putting a 13% tax on private rentals that are not rented for 30 days or longer. Easy to avoid. The real estate agent writes a 31 day agreement to rent and the guest checks out early. Not at all uncommon. Or, there is no agreement at all. Many on Craigslist, for example, take only cash, ergo, therefore there is no critical paper trail.

Costa Rica has become an excessively expensive place to visit from airline tickets to bottles of water and appears to becoming more costly by the week.

We cannot lay back and let Pura Vida do the work any longer. We must repair the roads, the bridges, charge a fair price for food and lodging, cut the crime rate and train those working in the hospitality industry to be competent, friendly and permit the valuable tourist to feel as if she/he received value for their hard earned money.

Or perish! Just ask Walmart USA, McDonald’s any where and INTEL who caught on quick and packed their bags leaving Dodge City for Vietnam.

Can we, as a nation, at least try and compete?

– Merry Xmas


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