Costa Rica’s tourism hopes to take a second wind

12 January 2002 12:00am

San Jose. _ Costa Rican authorities are confident about a tourist flare-up for this year after leaving behind the crisis triggered by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the Unites States.

Costa Rica’s Minister of Tourism, Walter Niehaus, said estimates for the year 2002 in the tourist industry are expected to report a 2% increase worth of $1.1 billion in revenues, a figure quite similar to the year before.

For Mr. Niehaus, despite the fact that this projection is way below the initial estimate made in early 2001, at least –he says- the sector won’t drop and would even keep up that growth in 2003.

The government hoped to rake in a 20% increase in tourism –the nation’s major source of hard-currency cash flow- between 2001 and 2002.

In his statements published last Monday by local newspaper La Republica, Mr. Niehaus underscored that in just a two-month span of time the number of U.S. travelers visiting the country picked up an 11% increase after having taken a 17% plunge.

“Last year was tough yet successful, because if we take a look at the whole picture, it wasn’t only the Sept. 11 (terrorist attacks), but also a worldwide economic shrinking. And regardless of all that, we managed to grow,” Mr. Niehaus went on to say.

However, Mr. Niehaus failed to rub his upbeat mood off on the Chairman of Costa Rica’s Tourism Chamber, William Rodriguez, who on the other hand believes 2002 isn’t going to be a good year for he thinks the ongoing crisis will carry on for a longer time.

The Tourism Chamber foresees hotel activity to plummet a ballpark 20% to 30% as compared to last year.

From this month on, authorities will invest some $9 million in tourist promotion. The U.S. market will be targeted with 80% of those promotional resources.

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