Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
Perhaps I’m being overly pessimistic, but I just don’t see a future that justifies a gigantic new international airport in Orotina.
Just about everything in the country is overpriced except, perhaps, medical care and property taxes — for the moment, which makes tourism in Costa Rica expensive relative to its regional competition. All indications are things will get even pricier as the government tries to position the country as a First-World nation.
In general, the beaches of Costa Rica, especially in the Jacó area, do not compare favorably at all with those of many Caribbean islands and even some other Central American locations. Don’t get me wrong. I love Costa Rica, but unless you’re a surfer, anyone who believes Costa Rica’s beaches compete with Ambergris Caye in Belize, Varadero in Cuba or a host of beaches in the Central Caribbean has probably never been to any of them.
The general infrastructure is increasingly incapable of dealing with a growing population and an even faster growing number of vehicles choking the poorly maintained road system. Not much is really being done for the people who actually live here to deal with this issue, and I doubt whatever is done will be sufficient.
A central Pacific international airport will probably negatively affect the economies of both the Central Valley and the Atlantic Coast region to some degree. The Caribbean Coast might become even more marginalized than it already is.
The current low cost of fossil fuels is unsustainable in the long term meaning that international travel will become more expensive over time.
Increasing political instability around the world as well as the gradual decline of the Western economies could well result in more international conflicts and economic contraction that adversely affect both tourism and trade.
Basically, apart from the biodiversity and ecotourism angles, both of which are threatened by accelerating climate change, Costa Rica offers little to differentiate itself from competitive destinations in this part of the world.
Finally, if history tells us anything, the government seems almost incapable of successfully executing major development projects in a timely and cost efficient manner.
There may be things I have left out. Other than that the airport is probably a great idea.
San Antonio de Belén