San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Expotur 2010 Turns Spotlight on Small Businesses

With more than 25 years of experience under its brightly colored tourism belt, Expotur 2010 promises to unite some of the most unique tourism companies in the world. So buckle up.

Set to take place May 16 to 23 at the RamadaPlazaHerraduraInternationalConvention Center in Cariari, northwest of San José, the event brings together hundreds of national tourism companies and international wholesale buyers.

More than 350 business and institutions, largely from Costa Rica, and 250 international tour operators will join forces at this year’s meeting to showcase the nation’s travel gems.

And the focus of this year’s 26th annual Expotur is on the little jewels.

With a combination of Costa Rican rural tourism businesses and lodges from the National Network of Small Hotels, nearly 80 percent of Expotur 2010’s participating presenters will be micro, small or medium-size companies.

“We really want to encourage people to see these small businesses and destinations,” said Pablo Bulgarelli, a spokesman for the event. “Costa Rica is in a unique position with a lot of small, sustainable and environmentally friendly locations that people can enjoy.”

Promoting sustainable and rural destinations coincides with one of the fair’s most eco-friendly goals: being carbon-neutral.

During the event, the Costa Rican Association of Tourism Professionals (ACOPROT) will collect donations to help offset the event’s emissions. These donations will be used to plant trees that will capture the carbon burned during the tourism expo.

“Our participants promote sustainable practices, and we want to as well,” Bulgarelli said.

Expotur was dreamed up in 1985 by tourism officials who saw Costa Rica’s potential to become an internationally recognized travel hot spot. Inspired by visits to world fairs in other countries, officials invited 130 national companies and roughly 70 international travel agents to attend the very first Expotur, held that year.

This year, tourism officials spent extra time dropping by as many world expos as possible to find ideas, swap business cards and shake hands in an effort to make Costa Rica’s travel show a top competitor.

Throughout 2009 and the beginning of 2010, ACOPROT officials visited U.S. fairs in New York, Chicago, Boston and Saint Louis. They stopped by Canadian shows in Toronto and Montreal, and swung by expos in Argentina and Spain, all in a tireless effort to sell Costa Rica.

The work seems to have paid off. Half of the international travel companies that will buy products and services from Costa Rican tourism businesses are new at this year’s Expotur.

“If you build it, they will come,” said Patricia Duar, executive director of ACOPROT. And, for the second year in a row, everyone will be able to come.

While May 16 to 21 will be reserved for private negotiations between travel agents and tourism businesses, the fair will be open to the public May 22 and 23.

Visitors can peruse stands showing off the best of Costa Rican tourism, including activity packages, zipline tours, promotional deals for travel and information about new hotels and businesses. They can also make a donation to the fair to plant trees and offset carbon emissions.

Expotur 2010 will be open to the public Saturday, May 22, from 1 to 6 p.m., and Sunday, May 23, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is free.

For more information about the fair, visit


Expotur 2010

What: Tourism expo in its 26th year that will bring together 350 local tour business and 250 international tour operators.

When: May 16 to 23. Open to public May 22, 1 to 6 p.m., and May 23, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., free admission.

Where: Ramada Plaza Herradura International Convention Center in Cariari, northwest of San José on highway to airport.



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