Country plans major efforts to attract Chinese tourist groups

Costa Rica will embark on major tourist efforts including investing $50 million in promotional campaigns in the United States and Europe. The country also will make strong overtures to China to attract wealthy tourists from there as a part of a general plan to boost tourism.

These were the revelations Wednesday by President Laura Chinchilla in a meeting with reporters at Casa Presidencial. The focus of the session was to announce that Copa Airlines will begin a new route from Panamá to Daniel Oduber Airport in Liberia starting June 24. Flights will be Sunday and Thursday. Officials hope that this new route will provide a link for tourists from the south, mainly Brazil, Argentina and Chile.

These steps also were presented:

The central government also will move to revise the process of awarding visas to Chinese citizens so that tourists can come in groups from that country.

The country also will develop an accord so that agencies in China and Costa Rica will be able to help in the visa process. Now China is on a restricted list, and visitors from there require a formal consular visa to enter the country.

Costa Rica also will develop a promotional campaign in China to identify it to those wealthy Chinese tourists who might be traveling to the United States, Canada, Europe, Japan and South Korea.

The Costa Rican aviation authorities will attempt to negotiate with Chinese officials to have air flights between both
countries. A Costa Rican delegation from Aviación Civil will visit China in May, officials said.

The Cámera Costarricense de Turismo has been lobbying for promotional efforts in non-traditional countries to boost the number of tourists. Ms. Chinchilla said that the goal would be to have from 4 to 5 percent growth in the tourism industry through 2014.

Officials also said that the country has 1,700 new hotel rooms as a result of a $325 million investment in projects. That is in addition to the 44,190 rooms that existed in the country. The new hotels and the investments are El Andaz de Hyatt in the Papagayo peninsula ($80 million), the Hyatt Place Curridabat ($16 million), Hotel Riu Palace ($85 million), Hotel City Express ($8 million), Hotel Park Inn San José by Carlson ($20 million), Hotel Courtyard by Marriott Aeropuerto at Juan Santamaría ($18 million), the Marriott Papagayo ($67.8 million) and the Corteza Hotel y Suites ($30 million).

Official also said that the proposed convention center is expected to be begun this year. This is a $30 million project which now is in the hands of the Contraloría General de la República to resolve appeals over bidding for design work.

In addition to the president, Allan Flores, minister of Turismo, and Pedro Heilbron, executive president of Copa Airlines, were at the press conference.

Officials also said that from this year until 2014 some $50 million of investment in promotional activities is planned. The Instituto Costarricense de Turismo plans to hire public relations agencies in the North American market and in Europe to promote the country.

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