San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Trans-Atlantic boat race expected to bring thousands of Europeans and euros to Costa Rica

The Transat Jacques Vabre 2009, a trans-Atlantic boat race featuring roughly 30 ships from several European countries, could draw as many as 15,000 spectators to Costa Rica´s Caribbean coast for festivities planned around the race´s finish line, tourism officials said.

“The first ships are expected to arrive around Nov. 22,” said Cindy Centeno, of CAC Porter Novelli, a public relations firm in charge of publicizing the event. “We expect tourists to begin arriving around the 20th and stay until the event is over around the 30th.”

As tourists flock to Limón, the port city will offer events and festivities to keep the crowds occupied. Centeno said concerts and live music will entertain guests most nights in hotels, restaurants and bars in the Limón area.

“This is an international event and (the Costa Rican Tourism Board) ICT is doing a lot to prepare the city for all the tourists who arrive,” Centeno said.

ICT estimates that Limón will make around €15,000 (around ¢ 13 million) during the 10-day stretch of festivities. The race officially ends when the final ship arrives at the port.

The regatta, which takes place every two years, will launch Nov. 8 from the Port of Le Havre of Normandy. From there, yachts will navigate a 4,340-mile trek across the Atlantic that retraces the coffee trade route from France to the Americas.

This will be the first international sporting event ever held in Limón, and it is further proof of the nation´s efforts to develop the country´s largest Atlantic port. In June, President Oscar Arias signed a bill providing for investment of $80 million for the renovation and development of the city (TT, June 19).

“This project is part of the overall betterment project of the Limón Port,” said Rashid Esna, engineer in charge of the project. “So as a result, this event will help speed up improvement projects that were planned for this area in the near future.”

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