San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Tourism Institute Distances Itself From Motels

The Costa Rican Tourism Institute has eliminated a 3% tax it has been charging motel clients as a gesture to show it doesn’t support sex tourism.

“We don’t want motels to be considered tourist destinations; this is a country whose philosophy is to seek a clean tourism that has no relation to the sex trade,” Tourism Minister Carlos Benavides told the daily La Nación.

The decision came after pressure from the Comptroller General’s Office, which had ordered the institute to either drop the tax charged to all the country’s hotels and motels or to dub motels as tourism destinations, which the institute had refused to do.

Leaders of the country’s 20 motels, known widely for being friendly to sex tourism and for charging clients by the hour, had been asking the institute to drop the tax for years because they weren’t being given benefits other tourism businesses receive such as tax-free imports.

The tax was dropped as part of a decree that Benavides and President Oscar Arias signed Oct. 25, which also obligates official tourism establishments to prohibit child sexual exploitation.


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