Tourism institute plans to announce big campaign

The tourism institute plans to reveal a two-year promotions plan targeting the United States and Canada.

That will be next Thursday at a local hotel. The Instituto Costarricense de Turismo has a history of elaborate campaigns instead of continual marketing in traditional media.

The most recent campaigns involved a $500,000 investment in television spots during the Winter Olympics and stands promoting the country at the World Cup soccer matches in Brazil, plus similar booths at European tourism trade shows.

The institute also commissioned two computer applications from its U.S. advertising partner 22squared of Atlanta.

The latest is goCostaRica, which is free via the iTunes online store.

The promotional material says “Visit Costa Rica right from your palms! Explore Costa Rica’s main attractions through beautiful videos, stunning photos, and interactive maps that will help you discover the hidden jewels of the country. Experience the lovely tropical beaches, the grandest adventures, scintillating culture and wonders of nature. Discover and learn more about the culture, best places to visit, facts and how to plan your trip to Costa Rica.”

The app came out last year and was updated last month. The iTunes store says that there is no customer rating average because there were too few responses.  There are just 144 individual ratings.

That is better than the earlier application featuring the sloth that appeared in an earlier and unusual Facebook trip giveaway. This app is EnviroMixer, also by 22squared.

The promotional summary says “Lay down a kicking beat with a howler monkey and toucan.  Or blow out your speakers with volcanoes and humpback whales. With the Costa Rica EnviroMixer you can mix, play and create your applications120514own beats with authentic sounds of Costa Rica. It’s effortless. Just combine the various nature sounds into the mixer, speed them up, slow them down and score an original track with a swipe of a finger. You can name it, save it and share it with the world.”

The iTunes store lists just 11 ratings. The tourism institute has not promoted these devices heavily or reported on the contract with 22squared.

International visits have been up slightly in 2014. Total visits are at 1,940,482, according to the institute’s statistics from January through September. That is a 4.8 percent increase over the same period in 2013.

North American visitors are up 7 percent at 967,851.

The statistics can be misleading. The institute reports all foreign visitors, and some of these are not tourists even though they may have entered the country on a tourism visa.

In addition, about 19 to 20 percent of the total international visitors are Nicaraguans, who are more likely to be coming here to work in tourist locations than to sun themselves on the beaches.

The institute appears to be trying to capitalize on the strengthening U.S. economy.  The percentage of total visitors from North America has been relatively flat at 48.8 percent in 2013 and 49.9 this year.

One prediction that can be made about the Thursday announcement is that officials will not discuss sex tourism. That activity is considered to be why about 10 percent of the nation’s tourist arrivals visit. There are no accurate figures because the tourism institute does not even address this type of tourism on the surveys done at airport departure lounges.

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