Being a business owner who caters to tourists, one that tries to provide a safe and clean place to rest and sleep and to assist them in planning their tours to the many attractions in La Fortuna and Lake Arenal, I am sad at the country’s lack of respect for them and the issues that cause the decline in tourism here. I don’t care what report you are citing or reading that says that tourism is increasing here in Costa Rica. Business in the area of Lake Arenal and La Fortuna is down significantly.
Some say, and I happen to believe it also from first hand experience, that the best advertisement is word of mouth. If this is true, we here in the business are in trouble. Having had recent clients over the holidays, I was able to converse with them as is normal, and the stories I have been hearing are troubling at best. A lot of my clients fly into Liberia and sample one of the beach areas before coming to discover Lake Arenal and Volcano Arenal and the many hot springs.
A current family just related to me that they were parked in front of a major chain store in one of the beach areas and shopping for groceries. The husband went into the store, and his wife and children stayed in the car to mind their possessions. They didn’t think to lock the doors and in less than five seconds, someone opened one of the doors of the vehicle and grabbed the backpack with their computer and other possessions while they sat there defenseless.
Another group of six who came from the same area of the beach to Arenal were stopped by the police and were extorted for $200. An officer said that if they didn’t pay him directly, they would be fined $1,000 in court and would not be able to leave the country until it was paid.
All of my clients have been challenged by the condition of the road for 22 kilometers between Tilirán and Nuevo Arenal along the lake. It is absolutely impossible to stay in one lane. It looks like a mine field decimated with deep and large potholes and is extremely dangerous to navigate for tourists, buses and the normal citizenry.
When these people return from their vacations and have related all of these stories to friends and family, I doubt if they will be planning their next vacation in Costa Rica.