QCOSTARICA – Costa Rica could become the mecca of accessible tourism if there is political will and the right incentives, while generating more jobs and wealth for the country.
This could be achieved through a bill that aims to provide benefits and certify companies, institutions and organizations that promote accessible destinations, products, and services accessible to all people, regardless of their physical or intellectual limitations, disabilities or age.
The idea is that the natural beauties of our tropical paradise are available to people of all ages and conditions.
“As a country we must reach the goal of making Costa Rica an accessible country and thus fulfill the human and universal right to recreation. We want to be a destination without any barrier that limits access and enjoyment of our beauties,” said Diego Vargas, legislator of the Liberal Progresista and promoter of the bill.
For instance, only the European Union, a major tourism market for Costa Rica, has a potential market for accessible tourism of more than 130 million people, according to data from the United Nations specialized agency, World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
Meanwhile, in Costa Rica, 18% of the population over 18 years of age has a disability, which implies more than 600,000 people according to the National Survey on Disability (Enadis 2018).
The certification proposed by the bill would be known as “Social Tourism with Integrity” and establishes the exemption of taxes related to imports and local purchases of specialized equipment.
Likewise, greater facilities would be provided for obtaining the tourist declaration and the tourist contract in accordance with the Law of Incentives for tourist development.
Another benefit is that this new market niche would have a guaranteed space in the advertising that the ICT would do internationally to attract tourists.
“Positioning Costa Rica as an accessible tourist destination for all people will also bring important economic benefits in the recovery process of the sector after the Covid-19 pandemic,” added Vargas.
The drafting of the proposal had the support of the Costa Rican Network of Accessible Tourism, which considers that the project is an opportunity to guarantee legal support for all the actions that have been carried out in recent years.
“We believe that Costa Rica can be a leader in this area, so that all people can enjoy leisure and recreation not in a temporary way, but rather become a reality with support, a reality that lasts over time and that rather increase,” said Stephanie Sheehy, director of the Costa Rican Network for Accessible Tourism.
Likewise, she considers that in addition to approving the project, regulating the eventual national legislation will be essential to define all the necessary criteria to give solidity to the proposal.
These are the incentives that hotels and other tourist sites that obtain the Certification in Social Tourism with Integrity would receive.
- Facilitate obtaining the tourist declaration and the tourist contract in accordance with the Incentives Law for tourism development.
- Exempt from all taxes and surcharges related to the importation and local purchase of specialized equipment for tourist accessibility.
- Provide spaces for the promotion and dissemination of tourism activities for all people, certified by the ICT within its communication plan.