(QCOSTARICA) Responding to strong criticism against charging vacationers and boat crews to participate in whale sighting, of cetaceans, the Instituto Costarricense de Pesca y Acuicultura (Incopesca) – Costa Rican Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture – announced this Saturday that it will analyze applying a moratorium.
Daniel Carrasco Sánchez, executive president of Incopesca, reported that the proposal to postpone the collection of the fee will be presented to Incopesca’s Board of Directors.
The fee for whale watching is US$30 per year or US$5.65 per day, applicable to nationals, residents, and foreigners.
Many pointed out that the price went from ¢30 colones a year to US$30 dollars in 2016.
Carrasco pointed out that when the collection was created in 2014, a “material error” allowed the fee to be published at ¢30 per year (US$0.05 cents), but that on December 17 of that same year a correction was published.
The Incopesca president added that there hasn’t been an increase in the fee since 2016.
However, this 2020 is different. Carrasco pointed out that the moratorium will be analyzed as a result of the national situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and in order to support the economic reactivation of coastal communities.
He pointed out that these areas have also been hit by the decrease in demand for fishery products, mainly due to the impact on the tourism sector.
“We understand the economic impact of all sectors, especially coastal communities, so we see an opportunity to analyze a moratorium for this 2020 in what corresponds to the collection of the fee.
Among the main critics for the fee during the pandemic is the Cámara Nacional de Turismo (Canatur) – National Chamber of Tourism – considering it as a contradiction that, given the reality that the country’s tourism faces, to demand a fee to be able to carry out whale watching tours is maintained.
Canatur asked the Government to repeal the provisions and demanded greater coherence in reactivation measures.
“We have a very serious crisis and we have the obligation to simplify as much as possible. We are concerned (…), ” said the president of Canatur, Rubén Acón.
For his part, the mayor of Osa, Alberto Cole, mentioned that tourist activity is in a very difficult condition due to the pandemic and that this measure could affect the situation even more.
“It does not seem to me that it is a measure proportional to the needs for economic reactivation that a sector as hit as the tourism sector has,” he said.
Cole asked the Minister of Agriculture, Renato Alvarado, to inquire about the compelling reasons for maintaining this measure at this time and what would be a way to avoid it before “the general malaise deepens even more.”