Couple honored for 40 years of tourism success

People in business say that anyone who starts and keeps a company running here for a year deserves a medal.

How about 40 years?

That’s how long David and Cecilia Reid have been running Calypso Cruises. The firm is best known by its catamaran Manta Raya that brings tourists daily to Isla Tortuga in the Gulf of Nicoya, The firm says that it has provided the service to nearly one million visitors since 1975.

That was the history for which the couple was honored Wednesday at the inauguration of Expotur, the country’s tourism marketplace. They received a statuette as pioneers of Costa Rican tourism.

“Returning to port in the afternoon, Calypso’s captain will escort his passengers on a tour of exploration of the islands in the Gulf of Nicoya, important to not only foreign travelers to see and learn more of Costa Rica’s history but also for national tourism and those who want to see up close, maybe for the first time, the beautiful and protected uninhabited islands in the Gulf of Nicoya accessible only by water,” the firm notes on its Web site.

Mrs. Reid notes that the couple was on a beach in Hawaii when a chance comment caused them to think about Costa Rica. Their trip here included a stopover at then-deserted Isla Tortuga, hence the idea for the tour.

The couple first settled in Puntarenas and remodeled a shrimp boat to carry passengers. Mrs. Reid, a chef, provided a memorable lunch for tourists that continues to be served daily on the island.

Reid did what every business operator does: sales and marketing. The twin efforts have made what today is a highly successful business with a second generation already involved. The firm also provides a living to some 40 employees.

President Luis Guillermo Solís, Mauricio Ventura, the new tourism minister, and Massimiliano Devote, head of the Expotur organizer, presented the award at the Teatro Nacional.

Foreign visitors made up the bulk of the audience. Many will participate in the calypso050715two-days of negotiations and visit displays set up by tourism operators in the Wyndham Herradura Hotel west of San José in Heredia. The private tourism marketplace is organized by the Asociación Costarricense de Profesionales en Turismo.

The organization has not been as clear as it has been in past years, but a spokesperson finally confirmed that the booths by the various tour operators will be open to the public Saturday and Sunday.

The president got applause and cheers Wednesday night when he said he would sign a decree that elevates the tourism industry to a higher level in the Plan Nacional de Desarrollo. The president admitted that the decree was largely symbolic, but some tourism operators were irked last year when tourism was relegated to a lesser category under one of the ministries. He signed the document at a small table on stage.

Both Solís and the tourism minister surprised the audience with short welcomes in flawless English. The speeches in Spanish were translated by a wireless electronic network for non-Spanish speakers.

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