The chamber, the Cámara Nacional de Turismo, predicted that tourist arrivals will be 2,082,153 when the year closes next week. That’s just 0.33 percent less than the 2008 totals. The percentage, less than 1 percent, represents just 7,021 tourists, said the chamber.
The chamber also predicts an increase of 5 percent in tourists for 2011.
Chamber figures show that tourism was down nearly 8 percent from 2008 levels in 2009, mostly due to the international financial crisis. The chamber also noted that tourism is affected by the U.S. dollar exchange rate and natural disasters such as tropical storm Tómas.
Juan Carlos Ramos, president of the chamber, said that the crisis has not been surpassed completely. The decline in the value of the dollar compared to the colon has affected at least 60 percent of the tourism operators, he noted.
The report of tourists seems to be at odds with statistics released this month by the chamber which showed
reservations for the last two weeks in December ranged from below 40 percent in the metro area to 85 percent in some of the beach communities. Tourism operators also agree that the tourists who do arrive are spending less money.
Ramos said that 71 percent of the tourists who do arrive come by air. One of the problems in counting tourists is that there have been no reports by nationality recently. Generally tourism operators figure that about 60 percent of the tourists come from the United States and other First World countries. A new immigration law will provide better breakdowns of arriving visitors.