San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rican Fishing Tourism Nets Big Gains

A recent study revealed that in 2008, fishing tourism netted $599 million for the Costa Rican economy. The Billfish Foundation, together with Southwick Associates and the University of Costa Rica determined that 283,790 of the 2.1 million tourists who visited Costa Rica in 2008 came to fish.

According to the study, the majority were here for sport fishing of marlin, sailfish, yellowfin tuna, wahoo and dorado, which are the top targets for both commercial and recreational fisherman. Information for the study was gathered through interviews at the JuanSantamaríaInternationalAirport in San José and the DanielOduberInternationalAirport in Liberia.

In addition to the $599 million spent by fisherman in 2008, which accounts for almost 2 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, the study revealed that fishing tourism generated $78 million in tax revenues and created 63,000 jobs. The study claims that fishing tourism outshined commercial fishing in 2008, which the study authors estimate generated $528 million in earnings, $68.6 million in tax revenue and created 57,000 jobs.

“We have already had the opportunity to present the results of this study to the vice president and minister of tourism,” said Ellen Peel, president of The Billfish Foundation. “The leadership in Costa Rica had no idea that their country receives more benefits from a sustainable recreational harvest than from the subsidized excessive effort of the commercial fishery.”

Southwick Associates also found that of the 7.5 million U.S. tourists in 2009 who traveled internationally to fish, 3.6 percent came to Costa Rica. Of the 116,000 U.S. anglers who came to Costa Rica last year, 40 percent said they would not have come if not for the fishing, and claimed they came for the quality of fishing, the relative peace and quiet, and the fishing services, including boat and crew quality.

–Adam Williams

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