San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Marinas Could Line Pacific Coast

TODAY Golfito and Flamingo, tomorrowPapagayo and Naranjo, and in theyears to come Playas del Coco andQuepos – if all of the marina proposals onCosta Rica’s horizon come ashore, thecountry will be home to 15 marinas on thePacific coast.After years of mooring in Mexico,boaters are now looking for a new place,and Costa Rica is attracting a lot of attention,according to Oscar Villalobos, technicalsecretary of the Inter-InstitutionalCommission for Marinas and TourismDocks (CIMAT). The commission ischarged with approving or rejecting marinaprojects in the country.The only legally built and operatingmarina in Costa Rica is Los SueñosMarina at Herradura Bay, north of Jacóon the central Pacific coast.Even with the handful of marinasoperating since before the 1998 law regulatingthe country’s marinas – the YachtClub in Puntarenas, Banana Bay andSamoa in Golfito in the Southern Zone,and Flamingo Marina in the northwesternprovince of Guanacaste (see separatearticle) – there is relatively little slip spaceon Costa Rica’s shores.“There is a lot of demand,” Villalobossaid. “We have had a lot of interest fromthe sector in Miami, from the sector inMexico.”Lower costs for boat maintenanceand great sportfishing are incentives forinternational investors, he said.Most of the proposed marinas willfeature capacity for between 200 and 300slips in water and 100 to 150 on land.Without considering parallel resortprojects, the marina proposals varybetween $10 and $20 million.In addition to new proposals, effortscontinue to legitimize the FlamingoMarina and three others operating oroffering services at the margin of thelaw.Before any of these projects becomethe reality of Los Sueños, they must beapproved by CIMAT, which evaluatesboth the environmental and economicviability of such projects.First, marina developers must havean initial consultation with CIMAT to proposethe project – currently the stage ofsix of the 14 proposed projects.Interested parties must then submit aseries of studies, including an environmentalimpact study. After CIMATapproval of the preliminary studies, thearea’s municipal government can awarda concession. Six of the 14 projects areat varying degrees of this stage.The final stage before operation isthe submission of specific constructionplans to CIMAT for approval. The GuaitilMarina in Playa Naranjo, on the easternshore of the Nicoya Peninsula, and thePuertocito Marina on the southern Pacificcoast are in this stage.CIMAT is coordinated by the CostaRican Tourism Institute (ICT) andincludes representatives of the ministriesof health, environment, transportationand the Institute for Housing andUrbanization (INVU).

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