Chamber says rains were costly to tourism operators

The national tourism chamber said that reservation cancellations because of the June rains costs the industry millions of colons.

The chamber, the Cámera Nacional de Turismo, said that in Sarapiquí, which was heavily affected by the storms, the cancelation rate was 80 percent. In Limón some 50 percent of vacationers canceled, while in San Carlos the rate was about 20 percent, the chamber said.

The chamber also noted that problems with the highways prevented  customers from reaching tourism locations. Ruta 32 was closed frequently after the rain started June 20. A secondary route through Turrialba also was affected by flooding and landslides.

The third route through Vera Blanca also suffered slides that blocked access to the northern zone.

This period is important for tourism operators because of the public school mid-year vacation.

The chamber estimated the loss to tourism operators in Sarapiquí alone at 180 million colons, nearly $350,000.

Tortuguero, the northern Caribbean community famous for watching turtles, also suffered from road closings, and tourism operators there are calling June the worst month in recent years, the chamber said.

Municipal road officials, the chamber noted, are assessing damage to highways, bridges and other structures at 1.3 billion colons or more than $4 million.

Central government officials estimate damage to roadways and bridges under their jurisdiction is about 3.2 billion colons or about $6 million.

The Monumento Nacional Guayabo, the home of pre-Columbian engineers, also suffered heavy water damage.

Archaeologists are evaluating the damage now, but it appears that modern work may have suffered more than the ancient structures.

The site has been held out worldwide for the clever construction of the drainage systems by ancient inhabitants. The recent damage is mostly to trails and  modern bridges, the chamber said, estimating that the bill might be as high as 60 million colons, about $115,000.

The excavated portion of the monument is alongside the Río Guayabo.

In addition, the monument has been closed, but the chamber said that the it might be re-opened soon. The pre-Columbian city is on the slopes of the Turrialba volcano.

The American Society of Civil Engineers has declared the site an international historic landmark.

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