The Chinchilla government and the private sector are joining efforts to reverse the sharp decrease in cruise ship arrivals in Costa Rica, that has halved between the 2011-2012 season and the current.
The Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (ICT) – Costa Rican Tourism Institute – and entrepreneurs are seeking to streamline procedures and improve safety at the Pacific and Caribbean ports.
For the 2013-2014 season, which begins on September 1, a total of 130 cruise ships are expected to port at Puntarenas and Caldera on the Pacific side and 59 at Limón, according to preliminary data provided by the Instituto Costarricense de Puertos del Pacífico (Incop) and the Junta de Administración Portuaria y de Desarrollo Económico de la Vertiente Atlántica (Japveda).
For the 2011-2012 season, a total of 345 cruise ships docked at Costa Rica’s ports.
Loria Wagner, secretary of the Asociación Costarricense de la Industria de Cruceros, the 50% drop in cruise ship arrivals is due to the lack of progress in improving services for the ships and tourists and strong competition from nearby countries, such as Colombia, Panama, Guatemala and Nicaragua.
External factors that affect each season, varying the arrival of cruise ships and the number of passengers, are weather, fuel costs and creation, elimination and modification of routes by operators, explains Juan Carlos Borbón, ICT general manager.
ICT officials say that the trend by cruise ship customers who want to cover the widest possible set of locations in short travel periods of three to seven days is another reason for the drop.