Saturday 25 June 2022


Paying the bills


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24 June 2022 - At The Banks - BCCR

Paying the bills


We have already discussed, no I have said, that the perpetual tourist scheme is a losing proposition for both Costa Rica as well as many tourists. After all, if you purchase a property in Paradise or you have submitted your residency documents, why in the world should you leave this country every three months just to jump across a border and come back again in a few minutes as a new “tourist”?

If one can believe the data, in the year 2013 Costa Rican tourism generated 12.1% of the national GDP (Gross National Product) and accounted for more than 11.5% of all jobs.

Yet, this country supposedly has an unemployment rate of 8.3%, the largest in Latin America, which is a significant improvement over 2012 which came in at 9.8% unemployment. (Frankly, I find it difficult to believe that in a single year the unemployment rate dropped 1.5 percent. How are these numbers and percentage derived?)

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In 2014, tourism is expected to represent a growth factor of 5.8% of our GDP, or 17.9% of the total GDP.

Sincerely, these are all feel good numbers and are intended to attract Direct Foreign Investment (DFI) into tourism ranging from condo sales, time shares, hotel development, tour packages and support facilities such as restaurants and visitor services.

To me, a research person, this is all like tossing a bowl of spaghetti against the wall and some of it will stick. The rest drops to the floor and is unusable.

I am of the opinion that the Costa Rican tourist industry as well as the government really has no plan and both have very little interest in manifesting this country into a cohesive tourist attraction.

Airplane travel is far more costly to arrive from the U.S. to Costa Rica than to Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua and even Panama. We seem thankful and publish headline news for any airline that lands in either San Jose or Liberia rather than negotiate some kind of deal that would make certain months of the year super attractive for tourists to come and enjoy, but also spend their money in-country rather than on travel.

In fact, we are so insecure how visitors will spend their money; we have hiked the exit and entrance taxes which go straight to the government bottom line making this country one of the most expensive travel destinations in Latin America.

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Despite the hoopla, flying into Liberia is more costly than San Jose and not all that comfortable. The tourist group needs to drive in sweltering heat or at a premium price with comfortable air-conditioning to the end destination; usually an all inclusive resort where every “want” is met with a Tico or Nica smile.

But this is not Costa Rica! It is the all inclusive resort who rented a toucan or monkey so you might say, “I saw one and took a picture.”

If the tourism industry is so important to the Costa Rican economy why then are critical destination roads loaded with impassable holes, killer land slides, washed out bridges that have not been maintained for up to forty years and now replaced by World War II make-believe Bailey bridges, expensive accommodations as well as over priced food?

How can such a vibrant country as ours promote talking sloths? Why are we promoting Costa Rica in Sochi, Russia where few, if any are running to the tropics and where international television degraded the Russian venue and global television was limited to weird times of day? (i.e. U.S, and Canada.)

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Has any person at ICT or CANATOUR ever tuned into Yahoo? The Brits, Great Britain have been running an on going advert campaign that makes a lot of sense. That’s the place to advertise and not the Olympics and soon we will sell CR at the World Cup in Brazil.

Our international symbol is a talking sloth. Yet, we are alive, we are a vibrant nation, we have wildlife in the jungles, we have adventure, we have hundreds of pristine beaches and we have rivers that offer the thrill of a lifetime. And we do have hotels moderately priced and many with deep discounts, we have terrible roads that need repair but that can be racked up as part of the adventure, we have good restaurants, clean local and inexpensive places to eat traditional foods, we have car rentals, we have safe living, and we have both the happiness and challenge of limited electricity, down pours of rain, floods, even sun tans on cloudy days, and the sight of the most “green” seen anywhere on the planet as nature all comes together for an exciting, informative and unforgettable experience.

If only we try a little it more!

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Paying the bills
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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