The Manuel Antonio National Park will restrict staring this month entrance of visitors to try to reduce the levels of contamination by wastewater.
The commitment of the authorities of Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of the Environment is to better the treatment of waste and therefore better management of the most visited park in the country.
The Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía (Minae), el Sistema Nacional de Áreas de Conservación (Sinac) and the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (ICT), agreed on Wednesday to restrict to 600 the number of people who could be in the park at any one time between Tuesday and Friday; On weekends that number will rise to 800. The park is closed on Mondays.
The daily limit will also be held to not more than 1,700 visitors on any given day. The measure will continue into the end of April.
March and April are the two months of greatest influx of tourists.
In addition to this, a bill will be presented to reform the distribution of the trust resources of the Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio (Ley N° 8133), so that economic resources can be available for the integral management of the Protected Wildlife Area and its area of influence “without neglecting the processes of buying land within the park”.
In addition, waste solids and liquids will be extracted from septic tanks on a recurring basis over the next four months, temporary portable toilets will be installed as a measure prior to the installation of the new wastewater treatment system that will be built starting this month.
To control access in the future, authorities will begin a hiring process to develop an online reservation system for those interested in visiting the park. The intention is for the system to start operating in the second half of 2019.
Last month, on February 26, the National Chamber of Tourism (Canatur), called it “shameful” the problems facing the protected area, demanding the intervention.
Among the main points, Canatur pointed out the current ticket purchase system, the long lines of access, as well as the uncertainty of the tourist not knowing if they can enter the park, and criticized “the unhealthy conditions of the toilets and the environmental impact resulting from the deficient wastewater treatment systems”.
“We are committed to improving the conditions of our Áreas Silvestres Protegidas (Protected Wild Areas) for the benefit of biodiversity, the economy of the country, our officials and the thousands of tourists who decide to visit us every day,” said Pamela Castillo Barahona, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources at the Minae.
“We are already taking measures to strategically and permanently solve the challenges that the management of the Manuel Antonio National Park is presenting,” added the Deputy Minister.
The Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio is open from Tuesdays to Sundays (closed on Mondays) from 7 am to 4 pm. Admission fee is US$16 (¢1.600 for nationals and residents), children under 12 free. More information available at Visit Costa Rica.
Note, the access to the national park is not to be confused with the beach, which is open to the public every day and at no cost.