EXPOTUR 2007 kicked off Tuesday with the participation of 445 tourism-related companies at the Hotel Herradura conference center in Cariari, northwest of San José. Buyers gathered from all over the world to partake in Costa Rica’s $1.7 billion tourism industry.
The event, hosted by the Costa Rican Association of Professionals in Tourism (ACOPROT), has been taking place annually since 1984 and is the largest of its kind in the country. The event ended last night.
Growth of the exposition has been slowed by the tight quarters at the convention center, and ACOPROT President Carlos Lizama said that the number of foreign buyers is down as a result.
Yet an ACOPROT press release stated that 32% of the buyers at EXPOTUR this year represent “virgin” markets for Costa Rica, including Central European countries such as Poland and Latvia, as well as Nigeria, India and the United Arab Emirates.
“You can see that the Costa Rican tourism product has improved year after year,” Lizama said.
The convention center at the Herradura was packed to the gills with slick booths featuring flat screen televisions and little cups of Café Britt. Some 150 international buyers wandered through the displays of 295 Costa Rican companies.
Meanwhile, across the parking lot in the hotel lobby, an exposition of a different kind was taking place. ExpoVerde, held as a parallel to EXPOTUR, hosted 24 green suppliers seeking buyers for their products.
Hosted by the Corcovado Foundation, ExpoVerde has doubled in size since its first appearance last year.
“Many companies want to do things the right way, but don’t have the necessary information,” said Alejandra Monge, the executive director of the Corcovado Foundation.
The goal, she said, was to build bridges and present the companies at EXPOTUR with the environmentally friendly products they might be seeking.