Major attraction closed due to crimes against tourists

Sistema Nacional de Áreas de Conservación photo
This is the famed volcano inside the park.

Park officials have closed part of the Parque Ricón de la Vieja in Guanacaste because of what they said was the increase in knife and firearm robberies of tourists there.

This is the first time in memory that a major tourism site has been closed due to criminality.

The announcement came from the Sistema Nacional de Áreas de Conservación of the Ministerio de Ambiente, Energía y Telecomunicaciones

The announcement said that the closing would be for an indefinite time because of the robberies. Victims have been park workers as well as tourists, said the announcement.

The ministry did not respond immediately to questions about how many robberies have taken place there.

The announcement did say that some 5,000 tourists visit the area, Santa Maria, every month. Santa Marta is one of two sections of the park. Access is near Liberia.

The decision to close the park comes at the beginning of tourism high season.

Alejandro Masís, director of the Área de Conservación Guanacaste, was quoted as saying that tourism has increased considerably there but that personnel to handle the visitors had not.

“The incidents of robberies and thefts, the majority with knives and/or guns, of tourists and at the installations of personnel in the sector have been facilitated by the small presence of personnel and these have made this place vulnerable,” he said.

The park is the location where an Illinois hiker vanished in 2009. He is David Gimelfarb, then 28 and a doctoral student in the United States. There has been no trace found despite extensive searching.

Officials did not mention this case Tuesday.

The principal attraction of the park is the Rincón de la Vieja volcano. But the area also is one of great natural beauty. Park officials have put the area near the volcano off limits because of eruptions and emissions of gas. Much of the water supply of Liberia comes from the park

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