Government commission created to aid smaller tourism operations

The central government has created a commission to help small and medium tourism operations. Private tourism organizations have a majority of the seats.

Wilhelm von Breymann, the minister of Turismo, will be the chairman, The goal is to help smaller tourism operations. The idea for the commission came out of a discussion Tuesday between Breymann and Melvin Jiménez, the minister of the Presidencia. The commission will help with such needs as infrastructure, training, business know-how, access to credit and financial aid.

The commission is called formally the Comisión de Apoyo a las Mipymes Turísticas. One member will be from the Presidencia, but others will come from the Cámara Costarricense de Hoteles, the Cámara Nacional de Turismo and the Asociación para la Protección del Turismo en Costa Rica.

A goal will be to improve the competitivity of the smaller tourism enterprises.

This was a week also when legislators and tourism figures presented a video that seems to support minimal development on the Pacific coast. The video is titled La gallina de los huevos de oro: Turismo en la costa Pacifica de Costa Rica. A reasonable translation would be “The Chicken That Lays the Golden Eggs: Tourism on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica.” The fable with that title sometimes refers to a goose.

A summary of the video says that it compares the costs and benefits of big tourism centers with those of a small scale on the Osa Peninsula.

The economic downturn has had a devastating impact on the tourism industry. A major Heredia hotel became the latest to lay off the bulk of its staff this week. The hotel management had gotten behind on its payments to the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social.

Many of the independent operations simply cannot compete with chains that have extensive marketing networks. Costa Rica tourism also benefited from years of short supply of hotel rooms.

That situation now has reversed and there is an oversupply plus many more international chains.

In addition there has been a geographical shift with the development of the Daniel Oduber airport in Liberia. In the past nearly all air arrivals passed through San José. That is not the case now.

The tourism institute also seems to be addicted to flashy, expensive marketing campaigns with unmeasured outcomes rather than steady, continuous advertising. Independent operators seem to rely on the institute to do the marketing.

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