Tourism chamber lists its priorities for new minister

The national tourism chamber would like to create a mandatory registry of tourism operators to formalize the business in Costa Rica.

The chamber, the Cámera Nacional de Turismo, also said it wants the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo to be an advocate for the industry with other government agencies..

These were some of the points that the chamber presented to the new tourism minister, Wilhem Von Braymann. Representing the chamber were  Isabel Vargas, the organization’s president, and Rubén Pacheco, the vice president and himself a former tourism minister.

The chamber presented more than 20 proposals, including the registry and the advocacy.

Ms. Vargas noted that the country and its institutions have been sleeping on the past laurels of the industry, according to a summary of the meeting provided by the chamber.

The chamber list also expressed pleasure that  Von Braymann runs tourism operations himself. The last two minsters of tourism were politicians.

The chamber list also called for an open institution, and  Von Braymann was reported to have agreed with this view.

In the key area of marketing, the chamber said it wanted the private sector to exercise a participative roll in decision making. The tourism institute in the past has made marketing decisions, such as placing video ads in U.S. movie theaters, that many believe are unproven techniques.

A major example was the 2011 advertising campaign that featured a talking sloth.  The Instituto Costarricense de Turismo gave away free trips in the hopes of creating a flurry on Facebook, and it spent some $6.4 million on the campaign. There never has been an marketing evaluation of the campaign. The institute just spent $500,000 with NBC for Winter Olympics advertising, but the effects were not reported.

Some of the points mentioned by the chamber are long-time complaints. These include transportation infrastructure and airline routes.

The tourism institute already has a certification for sustainable tourism. The chamber said it would like to see a more flexible program while it designs and offers itself another type of certification. The chamber also said that it will demand more excellence from its members.

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