Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Bottom Line On Tourism; The People Ain’t Coming!

QCOSTAIRCA BLOG – Living in Costa Rica is way too close to the Wizard of Oz who might actually be running this country? Despite the hyperbole, Costa Rica or as some call it Paradise or “Pura Vida” is in a world of economic hurt as well as political turmoil. Meanwhile we merrily skipping down the “Yellow Brick Road.”

In the 2014 elections we opted for “change.” A year later we are still waiting for something new.

We elected a professor who evidently feels more comfortable in the class room rather than being captain of the ship.

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While we have very few positive “changes”, we have had a plethora of disappointments during the President’s first year in office.

To name a few, the foreign direct investment which we very much need is down 20% and imports up 18%, unemployment over 10% and under employment is un-measurable while abject poverty keeps climbing.

According to the World Tourism Organization, “Pura Vida” tourist growth rate was 4.1% with 1.2 million people in 2014 – 2015 of which some 400,000 of those tourists counted came from Nicaragua while countries such as Belize showed a 10.8% increase and Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador all had higher percentage rates than Costa Rica.

In percentage growth, we fared better than Honduras and Panama, but not Cuba who logged in 4.2 million.

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Bottom line on tourism; the people ain’t coming!

The State of the Nation Address did little to make Ticos (Costa Ricans) and Expats (foreigners living in Costa Rica) feel better. It was filled with wishful thinking and gross generalities. on the other hand there were no smoke and mirror promises such as lowering the cost of electricity, lowering the cost of energy (gasoline), increasing employment, no facts on infrastructure and no new taxes for two years.

Besides global investors, most of the domestic commercial community walked away disappointed and dismayed. We still have a ship bobbing on the waters without direction and that is pushing away confidence which translates to driving away much vital jobs and taxes.

Make no doubt about it, right now our life style is 100% dependent on the ability to borrow money since the needs of commerce have not yet been heard and certainly not met by the government. There has been no improvement in infrastructure and if one looks at the national healthcare system, one has to wonder why it exists along with a myriad of other, expensive government supported institutions that tend to only grow larger and larger absent of accomplishment. More recently the ugly head of the oligopoly or perhaps monopoly was felt when Grupo Zeta, due to the owner’s divorce settlement in the U.S. stopped delivering propane gas in Costa Rica to its customers. This company enjoys 72% of the total market as a concession under government protection.

While this couple of former bliss fight it out in a U.S, court, RECOPE has a ton of propane stored but cannot deliver it to the wanting customers because, “…we cannot obtain permission.”

Right now, not in six months or another year, our ship needs direction and specifics even if it includes things we do not like. However, the State of the Nation speech and the recent interview published in La Naciὀn leaves me wondering if our President has been in academics too long and this government will simply float along for three more years hoping solis will click his heels and bring us back to reality.

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Juan Sebastian Campos
An expat from the U.S., educator and writer in English and Spanish since 1978 with a doctorate in business administrations (DBA) from the United States and Germany. A feature writer for ABC News, Copley Press and the Tribune Group with emphasis on Central America.

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