A legislative committee is studying a proposal to incorporate the national tourism employee organization as a colegio, a legally designated public agency that would restrict and supervise those who work in the field.
The bill is No. 18390, and it is being supported by the Cámara Nacional de Turismo. The employee organization is the Asociación Costarricense de Profesionales en Turismo, known by the acronym Acoprot. This is the group that organizes the tourism trade show called Expotur each year.
The measure has been referred to the legislature’s Comisión Permanente Especial de Turismo.
A colegio is a professional organization created by law that sets up a system of self-governance for the persons who work in the area. There are colegios here for physicians and surgeons, nurses, lawyers, librarians, dentists, accountants, engineers, biologists, journalists and many others.
These are far more than professional clubs. Typically the law restricted work in the field to those who have been accepted by the colegio.
Membership in a colegio generally requires a formal course of study and perhaps even a university degree.
Such is the case with the proposed Colegio de Profesionales en Turismo. Work in the field would be restricted to members of the colegio. Current members of the Asociación Costarricense de Profesionales en Turismo would be incorporated automatically upon publication of the proposed law. Others would have to have certain qualifications.
Eligible would be foreigners with more than five years of residency in the country who had obtained a doctoral, master’s, bachelor’s degree or a diploma in a field related to tourism.
Costa Ricans also would have to have degrees from recognized academic institutions, although individuals without such qualifications could become members if they already are working in the field, according to a summary of the law.
Colegio membership would be mandatory for any person or firm that seeks to do research or consultancy in tourism or work for a public agency in that area. Says the proposed law in part:
Only members of the colegio will have the right to occupy positions in public administration, public institutions, public firms, autonomous institutions, public institutions or private entities for which degrees or diplomas are required. The general laws of Costa Rica provide penalties for persons working outside required colegio membership.
The colegio creates a dignified profession of tourism and set ethical standards, according to the summary.
There really is no mention of the scope of the work involved, leaving open the question of whether a porter who carries the bags of tourists will have to be a member of the colegio. Some colegios exempt owners of businesses. For example, under Costa Rican law, the owner of a newspaper need not be a member of the Colegio de Periodistas. But this law does not mention that exemption.
The summary also continues the fiction that Costa Rica receives more than 2 million tourists a year, when, in fact, many person who are not traditional tourists enter the country with that type of visa, including more than 450,000 Nicaraguans each year.
There is no mention of establishing fees or salaries even though some colegios do for their members.
The tourism chamber said that Agnes Gómez Franceschi, president of the legislative tourism committee, expected quick passage to the full legislature.
Most students in Sociology 101 learn about the traditional professional groups, lawyers, the clergy, physicians and members of the military. Professions have a unique body of knowledge, established standards and generally a system of discipline for its members. The concept has expanded greatly in recent years to include many other occupations.