More than 100 persons showed up to hear the plans Tuesday of a new organization that aims to support struggling small and medium tourism operations.
The session was in the legislative complex, and the organization, Asociación para Protección de Turismo, said it had received the backing from four opposition parties.
Gustavo Arias Navarro, a legislator with the Partido Acción Ciudadana, told the group that this organization, called ProTur for short, has the backing of more than 500 hotels and that the tourism operators are simply seeking justice.
Mireya Zamora Alvarado of the Movimiento Libertario characterized the tourism situation as serious.
Also supporting the effort are the Partido Unidad Social Cristiana, the Partido de Accesibilidad sin Exclusión and Frente Amplio.
The complaints from the tourism sector would be familiar to any expat who does the family budget. Utility rates are high. So is the cost of credit. And the colon-dollar exchange rate hurts those whose income is in dollars but must buy goods with colons.
The organization also is seeking consideration and flexibility from the Caja Costarricense de Seguro
Social which collects the monthly assessments on employee salary. The organization also is concerned by the increase in insurance costs, taxes and other expenses.
As to electric rates, the group said that the cost of generating power during the low or rainy season is substantially lower when reservoirs are full than during what is called the Costa Rican summer from December to April. The organization is seeking special rates for tourism operations.
The organization already has been talking with banks about easing the industry’s debt load by lengthening the term for payback and other changes.
The tourism group also said it would like to see an increase in promotion by both the government and the private sector outside the country.
The organization appears to have developed from the Asociación de Micros, Pequeños y Medianos Empresarios Turisticos de la Fortuna. PorTur also said that existing national tourism organizations are not doing enough for the smaller operators.
In addition to hotels, the organization has travel agencies and suppliers of services as members.
Although the short-term goals are mainly financial, the organization said that in the long run it would like to help develop tourism policy with direct contact with lawmakers.