Tourism firms expect about 60 percent occupancy

Tourism operators are anticipating an occupancy rate just short of 60 percent as Costa Ricans take advantage of the midyear vacation.

Public school children have two weeks off, but even government agencies like the Poder Judicial plan to close down for at least a week although vital services will be maintained.

The estimate of occupancy comes from a survey of 100 hotels and other firms offering lodgings. The survey came from the Cámera Nacional de Turismo, which tries to maintain a statistical watch on the industry.

The optimism was not shared by everyone. Tourism operators in southern Guanacaste said they anticipated just 43.33 percent occupancy. Those in the Puntarenas Centro vicinity estimated 53.89 percent. The south Pacific operators said 53.89 percent, while those in the central Pacific said 52.46 percent.

Tourism operators in the southern Caribbean where the weather is less rainy this time of year were the most optimistic at 70 percent.

A number of tourism operators are offering special
packages for Costa Rican vacationers. Consequently most operators will be running at less than break-even this season.

Another complication is that many Costa Ricans stay with relatives or friends and avoid the hotels and bed and breakfast operation all together.

Local tourism has always been the mainstay of the industry, said the chamber.

Juan Carlos Ramos, chamber president, said an increase in tourism during the vacation period and during the rest of the year will depend on a strong focus by firms to attract and offer incentives for tourism.

He added that four- and five-star operations were more optimistic than the average and that the more economical lodgings and beach operations were below the average in their expectations.

The tourism industry has been struggling to offset the impact of the international situation.

Another favorable development for the industry is the summer vacation season in the United States and Canada. These tourists are not as well-heeled as the high-season visitors. They mainly are students, teachers and average wage earners.

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