A coalition of tourism organizations has called on the Laura Chinchilla administration to take concrete actions over the next three years.
A summary, released by the Cámera Nacional de Turismo, asked the administration to stop the continual changing of the rules of the game and to reduce the number and length of official paperwork.
The organizations involved, in addition to the chamber, are Cámara Costarricense de Hoteles, the Asociación Costarricense de Profesionales en Turismo, the Cámara Costarricense de Restaurantes, the Red Nacional de Pequeños Hoteles, the Asociación Costarricense de Agencias de Viaje and the Asociación Costarricense de Operadores en Turismo.
The action by these groups is believed to have been stimulated by the emergency of ProTur, a new organization that held several press conferences and said that the government should specify a state of emergency for tourism.
The government should guarantee greater stability and competitivity of the tourism industry and take action that surmounts the current economic crisis, said the joint release by the organizations. The group also called for improved infrastructure, such as the nation’s highways, and some legal changes. Among other requests, the coalition would
like the government to eliminate the ban on serving alcohol on Holy Thursday and Good Friday of Semana Santa. A similar ban on selling alcohol during national elections has been repealed.
Tourism accounts for 5.5 percent of the gross national product, the coalition noted, adding that the current exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the Costa Rican colon has affected the tourism sector. Most tourism operations earn dollars but have to pay their expenses and salaries in colons. ProTur also sought help in this area.
Although the foreign tourism situation is improving slowly, the coalition is seeking a redirection of the country’s promotional efforts toward emerging markets, it said. It also said that a new convention center was vital to increase business tourism and to make Costa Rica a destination for weddings without leaving aside the main product of the country, which is sustainable ecotourism.
The coalition also said that it opposed the tax plan put forth by the Chinchilla administration and supported instead attacking evasion and tightening the government’s budget. The coalition said that with a new $15 head tax on tourists, the government should have enough money to develop promotions to attract tourists.
The group noted that there is a general law of tourism languishing in the Asamblea Legislativa. It said it would create a lobbying effort in the legislature to obtain favorable action for tourism.