Wednesday 20 October 2021

[OP-ED] ONCE AGAIN, IT AIN’T TRUE

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As the holiday seasons approached (Christmas and Holy Week) like every year the published government prognosticators were wrong; by a lot. It is simple propaganda or the fabled take-away-sale making customers believe they better hurry right up and buy or that ocean view suite won’t be available.

Only one week before Semana Santa and the tradition of Spring Break La Nación clearly said that hotel occupancy was an impressive 80% full. This indicated, if you want a room with an ocean view, you had best get on the phone with a credit card and book that sucker NOW! Even some English speaking Websites jumped on that band wagon and heeded tourists to locate the maxed -out Visa card and make sure they had a hotel room within walking distance to the beach. (It might be a long walk, more like a “no cost” nature hike.)

Semana Santa (Holy Weak – Spring Break) is less than a week old and a much different story is being told: (Hotel) the occupancies and restaurants as recorded by the Camara Nacional de Tourismo were…..DOWN. Down by almost 50% from the projections.

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The same DOWN as three years ago when the Camara had the courage to publish similar results. And, I am just guessing, they will be down even further when the Consejo of Hoteleros publishes its results.

Actually, the difference from reservations to actual room occupancy came out to a minus 42.6% throughout the country and not the 80% as hyped. For business, any business that is one big miscalculation.

“Yes,” of course the big guys, all inclusive resorts did fine. They sold mojitos, (A Cuban not Costa Rica drink,) Corona beer from Mexico, rented beach chairs, offered up child care who were taught “si”, “no” “pipi” and “pool” and a buffet brunch was served that less than 1% of Ticos could afford to purchase. (I say that because I did it once and felt too ashamed to do it again. I could see the saliva on the workers lips as they smiled and counted their tiny tips; maybe even their return bus trip to Nicaragua.)

You see, I was born white, born a male and born in the United States…how could I lose? Take away any one of those three gifts and I would not be worth s@#t.

I have some things in common with the owners of these facilities, these wanna-be entrepreneurs and in fact the real thing: We struggle for clients and Costa Rica offers up only a little help and but mostly just more business confusion.

For the good of the country, for the good of the GDP, for the good of employment and all those ancillary services that bring valuable tourist money to Paradise, we need to cooperate, with a common effort. We have some world class hotels, world class food and world class beaches, but they are expensive, few and far between. Getting there is usually a hassle with semi-passable roads. The typical Tico Tourist is not here for the most expensive cocktails and the most costly suites. We are not Mexico with a massive amount of options, trendy discos, conclaves and people who will attend to your every want. Our guys just do not have the money.

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Luxury behind steel bars is not Costa Rica and that is not our target market!

Think of this, excluding Avianca, (A Colombian Airlines) almost all airline landings in Costa Rica are “down”. Making the country less hospitable, not promoting the thousands of small venues, keeping adventure under wraps and most of all keeping the plethora of wildlife hidden from sight which just takes away what makes this Paradise worthy of a vacation.

The talking sloth ad campaign lost!

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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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