Look for eight new regional branches of the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT) to open in mid-2008.
The new offices will supplement services available at ICT headquarters in the northwestern San José district of La Uruca, and at its walk-in information office under the Plaza de la Cultura in downtown San José.
The project, first announced in 2006, is in the final planning stages, and a $1 million budget has been set aside for next year, said Gustavo Alvarado, ICT s director of Tourism Management.
Exact locations have yet to be specified, but Alvarado identified regions, with three offices to open along the Pacific in the Puntarenas province, two each in the Caribbean zone and the northwest province of Guanacaste, and one in the Northern Zone.
I look forward to not having to go to San José to take care of ICT business, said Luis Centeno, president of the Southern Zone s Osa Chamber of Tourism, who predicts that one of the Pacific region s new offices will be slated for his area.
It means that ICT is finally listening to us, to make things easier for us, added Noel Ferguson, president of the Limón Chamber of Tourism on the Caribbean coast.
Ferguson has lobbied for his region s two offices to be set up in the Caribbean port city of Limón and in the Caribbean slope community of Guápiles.
Many places want one of these offices, said Alvarado, who has been traveling the country, meeting with officials.
Although tending to trámites, the bureaucratic process that is part and parcel to doing business in Costa Rica, is foremost on the industry s mind, ICT s Alvarado emphasized that visitors will benefit too, with the five staff members at each office fully trained to provide tourist information to visitors about their region.