Costa Rica has new season, “Zero Season”, for the state of the tourism sector, as the last groups of foreign tourists who remained in the country have left, returning to their countries of origin, after the closing of borders due to the emergence of the new coronavirus, reports the Cámara Nacional de Turismo (Canatur) – National Chamber of Tourism.
The previous week some foreigners, who had entered our country before the border closing measure was announced, were still around; however, with the passing of the days, practically, all of them have already left.
Even foreign residents who are a source of tourism in the country and one of two groups who can enter the country (along with Costa Rican nationals) may rethink it, in the face of the new measure that if they do come and then leave would lose their migratory status.
These changes confirm an unprecedented zero-income season in the sector, one of the fastest-growing economic sectors of the country, which has forced hotels and other tourist centers to paralyze their operations completely.
Canatur projects that the “Zero Season” will last at least 3 months and take another 12 months or more to recover.
The recovery will depend on multiple factors, such as the decisions of the main tourist source markets for the country, such as the North American and the European, the recovery of the airline industry and international promotion efforts, among others.
Given this situation, Canatur said it is negotiating with the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (ICT) – Costa Rica tourism board – and the ministries of Planificación Nacional y Política Económica (Mideplan) – National Planning and Economic Policy (Mideplan) and the Hacienda – the Treasury, the urgent approval of a subsidy to support those workers who are affected by the reduction in working hours, suspension of the contracts, or, in the worst case, layoffs.
“Our highest priority is to avoid the layoffs of our workers as much as possible. However, it will be inevitable to dispense with some, suspend contracts or reduce working hours; the truth is that income will be affected in some way or another, so one of our requests to the State is the creation of a subsidy that allows them to meet their basic needs,” said the president of Canatur, Rubén Acón.
Canatur says it has seen a supportive attitude from many businessmen who have chosen to send their workers on vacation as a temporary measure; in other cases, they have decided to reduce the working day to ensure that they receive a part of their income; however, not all companies are able to apply these measures to retain them.
At this point it is impossible to determine the actual volume of layoffs; However, it is clear that, given the reduction in income, companies are already taking some of these measures to reduce wages, thereby increasing the number of people left in a vulnerable condition.
“Our second priority is to protect all the subsectors that make up our industry. Canatur has proposed various tax, financial, labor, legislative and executive level solutions that allow all actors in the tourism industry to overcome this crisis, some of which are already in place. In the course of the following days, new measures are expected to be finalized,” Acón added.
“Today, more than ever, we ask for the tools to protect and save the national tourism industry from this crisis, so that we are prepared when world tourism resumes its course, but only with understanding and working together in the public, private sector, and above all, the banking system, we will be able to achieve it ”, concluded the Canatur president.