Images of dense jungle, spectacular Pacific Ocean sunsets and scarlet macaws filled a Crowne Plaza Corobicí Hotel ballroom on Wednesday afternoon when Osa Chamber of Tourism (CATUOSA) brought its annual EXPO-OSA tourism fair to town.
The 75-member tourist board, established in 1992, promotes tourism to Costa Rica´s Southern Zone, from Dominical to the Panama border, an area that includes some of the country´s best beaches and remotest and greenest tourist regions.
A steady stream of visitors browsed the 37 exhibition booths, which included hotels and nature lodges, tour companies, airlines, transportation companies and environmental organizations. The Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) was on hand to promote its sustainable tourism program, and the National Chamber of Tourism (CANATUR) was also exhibiting.
Among the 15 hotels with booths, two newcomers making their debut at the annual Expo underscored the two different directions that tourism in the Southern Zone is taking. The Pura Vista Corcovado Eco Camp, 10 platform tents set in the jungle near the village of Drake Bay, offers the kind of roughing-it nature adventure the Osa Peninsula is famous for.
On the other side of the Golfo Dulce, the upscale Hotel Casa Roland Marina Resort recently opened its doors in Golfito, banking on a new wave of potential tourists attracted by the promise of an ambitious new marina.
The Municipality of Osa showed its support for the local tourism industry with a large booth at the expo and a new brochure promoting the beaches of the canton of Osa with the slogan: “Cada una de nuestras playas encierra algo especial (each of our beaches encompasses something special).”
As a measure of how the Southern Zone is rapidly becoming less remote, there were two car rental companies with booths at the expo, Thrifty and Solid Car Rental, which now has offices in Golfito, Puerto Jiménez and Dominical. Only a few years ago, it was impossible to find a rental car company in the Southern Zone south of San Isidro de El General.
Another exhibitor also promises to make the Southern Zone more accessible to people who prefer to let someone else do the driving. ShuttleOsa, in business for less than a year, is now running a comfortable, private shuttle service between San José and Puerto Jiménez, with stops along the way in Dominical, Uvita, Palmar Norte and Sierpe.