A lack of qualified workers in Costa Rica’s tourism industry – especially in rural and coastal areas – has business owners worried, said Carlos Lizama, president of the Costa Rican Association of Tourism Professionals (ACOPROT).
The main problems facing the industry’s work force are a lack of workers with English skills, computer knowledge and training in the food and beverage industry, he said last week.
“Twenty years ago, 70% of Costa Rica’s tourism was focused in the central region of the country and only 30% was in coastal and rural areas.Today the situation has inverted, and 70% of tourism is centered in rural areas,” he said.
Finding workers with these skills is difficult in rural and coastal areas, where education levels are lower, Lizama explained.
These regions also offer few opportunities for those who want to gain the necessary skills to work in the industry.
ACOPROT is working on bringing more training programs to regions with heavy tourism, such as the northwestern Guanacaste province, the Pacific Puntarenas province and the Northern Zone.
Additionally, the association is asking the government to invest more in primary and secondary education in these areas, where many students drop out of school early.
Tourism is the main economic activity in Costa Rica, generating $1.6 billion in 2005 and creating approximately 120,000 jobs in the country.