QCOSTARICA – Tourism Minister Wilhelm von Breymann announced his departure from the cabinet effective May 8 after exactly one year on the job.
Von Breymann had been criticized roundly by the private sector for supposedly having very little clout for their interests with the government.
The resignation was made public around Tuesday noon after the regular cabinet meeting. It appeared that the Minister voluntarily resigned but for anyone outside the innermost circle of President Luis Guillermo Solis can only guess, especially in the midst of a cabinet shakeup.
Friction between von Breymann and the private sector of his field has been bubbling since last October but it was not until March that it surfaced into public view when the tourism chamber Canatur, the hoteliers, restaurateurs and car rental agencies went directly to the President to demand a minister with more clout.
Gustavo Araya, president of the hoteliers, lamented the absence of von Breymann at that meeting and said the sector he represents wanted a minister with a more active voice on the cabinet. Araya charged that the Minister not only did not listen to them but no one listened to the Minister.
According to Araya, the President promised to assign a member of the government to have direct contact with the various tourism groups. This did not assuage Canatur’s president Pablo Heriberto Abarca who complained, “We’ve been tolerant and transparent in saying we need more backing.”
Despite Abarca’s criticism, he hastened to add that he felt that President Solis was sympathetic to the position of tourism groups. After the meeting, President Solis did not make a statement supporting von Breymann and pundits saw that his days as cabinet member were numbered.
In reply to the criticism, von Breymann pointed with pride to the new airlines serving the country, the number of new flights added, the 8% increase in the number of tourists during 2014 compared with the year before, the impending start of construction on the International Convention Center and increasing respect in international tourism markets.
But a number of issues infuriated private tourism including a new tax the Finance Ministry placed on visits to National Parks and a singular lack of development in other ministries of initiatives of benefit to tourism. Moreover, they point out that it was eight months before the first meeting of the regulatory committee was called.