Sunday 1 October 2023

Tourism dynamism does not reach all small businesses

Many of those companies that before the pandemic were carrying debts or had mismanagement fell to the point of closure. Those who emerged afloat begin to feel the recovery of the sector.

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30 September 2023 - At The Banks - Source: BCCR

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QCOSTARICA – It is estimated that, by the end of 2022, Costa Rica will accumulate the arrival of some 2 million tourists in a clear recovery, after being the sector most affected by the pandemic. However, this dynamism did not reach many companies that had heavy debts or mismanagement prior to the pandemic and that fell by the wayside.

Tourism is clearly growing, but there are still sectors that require a lot of support to get ahead. Photo: ICT

This was confirmed by Francisco Mirabelli, president of the Chamber of Tourist Guides (Cámara de Guías Turísticos), who indicated that before the pandemic, many companies were already carrying debts, such as hotels, transportation services or restaurants, some even had management problems.

“We know of many businesses that received one colon and spent five colones, they believed that a pandemic like the one we experienced would never happen, nor did they expect that we would have to close for so many months, a large number did not reopen their businesses,” Mirabelli told Semanaria Universidad.

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For the representative of the Chamber of Guides and tourist entrepreneur, the blow that the pandemic brought to his sector is no stranger. With the closure of borders and the restriction of movement, he dedicated himself to working for Uber and even spent almost a year in a service company, just over a year ago, when the borders were opened, he returned to his business, receiving groups of tourists.

But ultimately, both for him and for many others who managed to survive the pandemic, it has been necessary to make changes, adapt to a new economy that requires lower prices to compete, raise the quality of service, acquire new equipment and improve services. services in general.

“Agencies demand more from us, although they do not increase payments, it is understandable, we must guarantee customer safety. It is true that the arrival of tourists has grown, but many hotels or tourist carriers have not adapted, they continue to require advance payments or have high rates, which works against them,” Mirabelli explained.

Diego Quesada, director of the Southern Cantons Chamber of Tourism (Cámara de Turismo de los Cantones el Sur), agreed with Mirabelli on the effect of the pandemic on the diversity of tourism companies, where those that were already causing problems could not withstand the crisis; while those that had a more consolidated business and, in many cases, foreign capital, did not have significant closures.

“In fact, many foreign-backed hotels have upgraded their infrastructure. But we must take into account that in our southern region we are not a purely international tourism destination, on the contrary, we have a large presence of local tourists who come to Golfito to buy and visit the Pacific coast, therefore, the pandemic it only affected us at the beginning and then business was boosted, although now we are in the low season (until November),” explained Quesada.

Recently, the Minister of Tourism, William Rodríguez, revealed that, when considering total visitation (that is, by air, land and sea borders), Costa Rica is at a level of 70.9% in relation to 2019, while if the calculation is made only by air, it would be 83.8% compared to 2019.

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For her part, Shirley Calvo, executive director of the Costa Rican Chamber of Tourism (Canatur), reiterated that for this year the sector has the expectation of exceeding 80% of 2019. However, it must be recognized that the recovery is not complete, nor uniform for the whole sector.

“There are still certain subsectors and regions of the country that do not perceive an improvement, among them, tourist transport, tour guides, cruise ships, suppliers and other sectors that are chained to activity, such as entertainment or artisans.”

Growth projections

When comparing the figures for August 2022 with the same month in 2019, international arrivals by air at the Liberia Airport experienced a 25% increase and at Juan Santamaría it was 17% less.

And, according to the tourist entry data reported by the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (ICT) – Costa Rican Tourism board, so far in 2022, 88.2% of the visitors who entered by air in the same period of time have been reached. 2019.

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In the case of the indicator of international tourist arrivals, the first seven months of 2022 registered 1,446,746 people, which is 27.5% below what was registered in the same period of 2019

Although the estimate of tourist arrivals at the end of the year depends on many factors, the ICT uses projection models that allow them to determine that it is very likely that Costa Rica will end the year with some 2,005,210 tourists by air.

“In relation to the contribution of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), it continues to be one of the most important activities in the country, but in 2019, which was our best year, we had US$3 billion in foreign exchange earnings and 2021 we finished with half, for effects of the pandemic”, indicated the head of the ICT in the framework of a webinar developed by the Costa Rican Banking Association (ABC).

The country has two models to establish visitation projections. One of them is the Holt-winters that uses lower and upper limits and which gives as a result that the arrival of tourists by air at the end of the year would be around 1,723,273 tourists; and the simple seasonal model, which consists of an average that results in the figure of 2,005,210 tourists. “The latter is the model that he considers will be closer to our reality,” Rodríguez said.

Source: Semanario Universidad

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