Sunday 24 September 2023

The 32 beaches and mountain resorts that drive tourism and community development

Papagayo, Santa Teresa, Manuel Antonio, Puerto Viejo and La Fortuna among favorite places

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23 September 2023 - At The Banks - Source: BCCR

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QCOSTARICA – Beaches, rivers, mountains, volcanoes, waterfalls, and forests are part of the natural beauty of Costa Rica that attracts millions of tourists a year.

Papagayo, Santa Teresa, Manuel Antonio, Puerto Viejo, and La Fortuna are some of the 32 favorite places for visitors, who enjoy the “Pura Vida” environment and climate that Costa Rica offers its visitors.

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Since 2019, the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (ICT) – Costa Rican Tourism Institute Board –  has been given the task of determining the 32 most important tourist destinations in the country, which it called Tourism Development Centers (Centros de Desarrollo Turístico) and whose primary objective is to determine the impact of tourism in these communities.

These Development Centers can be defined as a portion of the tourist space whose concentration of high-ranking attractions, and services in general, that allows it to attract tourism, more or less constantly, tourists that spend at least one night, according to the National Tourism Plan 2022-2027.

“We cannot lose sight of the fact that the reason for tourism is a social reason, we have lost that dimension and at the ICT we do a lot of things that we should make more visible,” William Rodríguez, Minister of Tourism, recently said.

To quantify these contributions, the Progreso Social (IPS) – Social Progress Index – was developed in collaboration with the Latin American Center for Competitiveness and Sustainable Development (CLACDS), and thus measures the well-being of local people in the communities.

The average tourism IPS, in the 32 development centers, was 71.8 for 2019 when the last measurement was made; however, one of the three main objectives of the National Tourism Plan is that, within five years, each of these destinations reaches or exceeds the level of 70 points.

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La Fortuna, Monteverde, San Vito, Los Santos, Turrialba, Dominical, Papagayo, Punta Islita, Santa Teresa and Limón were the ten best Tourism Development Centers in 2019, and post-pandemic measurement is awaited.

As part of this strategy, the country developed Tourist-Cultural Guides (Guías Turístico-Culturales), which aim to highlight the cultural, historical and natural beauties of these regions, for all those national and foreign visitors who wish to discover the country’s tourist offer.

Maps, tours, activities, handicrafts, gastronomy, rural tourism, and others, are part of the information that tourists can find in the ten Guides and eleven Miniguides produced to date and that are available on the ICT website.

Recommendations to tourists in sections such as “Ten things that every tourist must do and see” and “What you must try”, as well as the access routes of the tourist corridors that connect all these regions, is part of the material that visitors have by hand.

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Attracting investment to all these regions is what the ICT is planning for the next five years, mainly in very specific places, such as the Papagayo Tourist Pole, the South Pacific and the province of Limón.

“The South Pacific is another area of ​​the country where the future of tourism is, without a doubt, the future of tourism in Costa Rica is in two areas, one is the Caribbean Zone and the other is the South Pacific, keep it in mind for that of tourism investment,” added Rodríguez.

To promote the development of these 32 destinations, the Programa Gestión Integral de Destinos Turísticos (PGIDT) – Integral Management Program for Tourist Destinations – was created, with the intention of monitoring tourism competitiveness, increasing employment and generating better living conditions for the residents of the communities.

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