April is not a great month for commerce this year.
Friday, April 11, is Día de Juan Santamaría, a national holiday. And both April 17 and 18 also are legal holidays.
On all three days, employers are obligated to give workers a paid holiday. If for some reason the employees agree to work at the request of the employer, they get double pay. Overtime means triple pay.
These are the obligations for employers as set out this week by the Ministerio de Trabajo y Seguridad Social.
April 13 to 19 is Holy Week or Semana Santa leading up to Easter Sunday, April 20. That Thursday and Friiday are the holidays.
Lucky members of the workforce will embark on a vacation starting the evening of Thursday, April 10, and not return to the job until April 21. The ministry noted that workers can use vacation time for the first three work days of Semana Santa
Of course for the tourism industry, Semana Santa is hard work. The Cámera Nacional de Turismo said Tuesday that operators of some 78 hotels that were surveyed predicted an average occupancy over Semana Santa of about 75 percent. Those at the beaches estimated occupancy in the 80s. Most of the tourism operators expected the week to be the same as last year.
The average was thrown off somewhat by the Central Valley where occupancy was estimated at about 52 percent, about typical for a holiday week when vacationers go to the mountains or beaches.
Curiously only 55 percent of the hotel operators said they were offering any type of promotion for Semana Santa. Those who were said they offered discounts, accepted coupons or provided an extra night’s lodging for free.
Tourism over Semana Santa is heavily Costa Rican. Many do not bother with hotels. Some stay with relatives who live near at vacation spots. Others simply set up tents on the public beaches.