Caldera highway reported hurting hotel occupancy in Puntarenas

Public works effect unforeseen changes. A case in point is Ruta 27, the Caldera highway that links the Pacific coast with the Central Valley.

The toll highway takes a lot of traffic from the winding, hilly Interamericana that motorists have driven bumper to bumper for years.

One expected effect was to increase real estate values along the Pacific. But now tourism operators in Puntarenas are claiming the highway is reducing their business.

Miguel Ángel Rennan, president of the Cámara de Turismo de Puntarenas, told lawmakers Thursday that the highway allows 99  percent of the visitors to the Puntarenas Centro area to return home at  night, presumably to the Central Valley. So there is now lower occupancy rates in the region’s hotels, he told the Comisión Permanente Especial de Turismo.

Average occupancy rate there in 2010 was 80.42 percent, he said. This year, occupancy is around 69 percent, he added.

The number of persons entering and leaving the central canton of Puntarenas each day is about 180,000, he said.

What Rennan and other members of the chamber want, he said, are projects that would be a major attraction to tourists. He said the region also needs jobs and also some major sewer work, he said.

The chamber president also noted that so far in 2014 there have been 72 cruise ships that visited Puntarenas Centro bringing 118,000 passengers.

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