Nation Faces Possible Hotel Room Shortage

October 15, 2004

OPTIMISM in the Costa Ricantourism industry regarding the boom invisitors during the past two years is temperedby concern about whether there isroom for them all in the nation’s hotels,the daily La Nación reported this week.By 2006, according to the report,Costa Rica may run out of hotel rooms tohouse the ever-increasing tourist population.The potential shortage poses a seriousproblem for the otherwise healthyCosta Rican tourist industry.While the number of visitors travelingto the country by air has increased anaverage of 8.26% each year since 1997,the number of hotel rooms has grownonly an average of 3.26% per year overthe same period.Tourism Minister Rodrigo Castro hasadmitted the lack of rooms is a seriousproblem, but said he has been working todevelop incentives for increased nationaland foreign investment in the hotelindustry, according to La Nación.Iberian Airlines’ recently unveileddirect flights between Madrid, Spain, andSan José are expected to increase therecent tourism boom still further, heighteningindustry leaders’ concern about thepotential room shortage.Roberto Morales, executive directorof the Costa Rican Association ofTourism Professionals (ACROPROT),told La Nación studies are necessary toascertain the total number of roomsavailable in Costa Rica, so a more accurateassessment of the problem can bemade. He estimated at least 1,000 newrooms need to be constructed per year tokeep up with the increased number offlights.The executive director of the NationalTourism Chamber, Alberto López, recommendsa different approach to the problem:a change in Costa Rica’s schoolschedule. He told La Nación that shiftingpublic school vacations so they nolonger occur during the tourism high seasonwould reduce congestion in hotelsduring peak periods.

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