San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rican Tourism Pioneer Dies of Cancer

Andy Gingold, 60 years young, one of a handful of pioneers in Costa Rican tourism from an era when few tourists knew where the country was, succumbed to cancer last Sunday at his home in Ciudad Colón, southwest of San José. He passed on peacefully in his private wildlife refuge surrounded by his wife Avie, mother Roslyn Sivitz, children Dylan and Jesse, and grandson Tico Sky.
After a successful career designing denim clothing in England and Ireland for the U.S. market, he moved to Costa Rica in 1975 and began, with Avie always at his side, a series of dreams that all came true.
His first success was designing and developing elegant tabletop items in fine wood for the U.S. gift market, followed in 1980 by his Finca Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da nature horseback tours into the El Rodeo and University for Peace reserves near Ciudad Colón. The famous tour, along with others such as Calypso Cruises and Ríos Tropicales, helped put Costa Rica on the maps as a tourist destination.
In the following years he undertook another vision to support his community with Bandanna Republic, an award-winning single mothers’ artisan project to make hand-printed, nature-themed bandannas (TT, March 5, 1993). He also published a bilingual children’s activity and coloring book,“Let’s Discover Costa Rica,” promoting the country’s attractions – later followed by a conservation edition – and was a regular contributor to The Tico Times. The last business he established is an ongoing distributor of quality crafts for the national tourism market.
The environment was a constant theme of the Gingolds. They became honorary forest guards and founding members of the Audubon Society, authored the “Responsible Ecotourism Code of Ethics,” served on the board of directors of macaw-conservation organization Amigos de Las Aves, and in 1998 were honored to have their property declared a recognized wildlife refuge by presidential decree.
His remains will be cremated, and an open house with the showing of a video created by his children of his life is planned for this weekend in the western suburb of Escazú. For more information, please e-mail

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