European research firm is bullish on 2012 tourism

A European research firm expects Costa Rica to host nearly 2.5 million tourists this year, but warns that the proliferation of drug-trafficking throughout Central America is posing a challenge to Costa Rican authorities and potentially deterring tourism to the region.

The company is Research and Markets, which generates reports on many industries. The Dublin firm noted that Nicaragua, as well as the United States and Canada, are the major sources for Costa Rican tourists.

The report said that tourism would continue to grow by about 7 percent until 2016.

The estimates seem higher than even the most optimistic of the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo.
The firm also said there was untapped potential in the province of Limón:

“The planned regeneration of the province of Limón, on the less frequently visited Caribbean coast, has the potential to put upward pressure on inbound tourism numbers. Puerto Limón was once the town of the United Fruit Company (the predecessor of Chiquita Brands International) and the province has two national parks. . . . In our view, developing tourism infrastructure in the region is likely to unlock great potential.”

The report also said that Costa Rica is competing with newer destinations such as Puerto Rico for the millions of Americans, and people from other countries, who travel abroad for medical care.

It said that Costa Rica continued to develop its infrastructure to tap further into a growing market.

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