San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rican Tourism Chamber looks to congress for assistance

Members of the Costa Rican National Tourism Chamber (Canatur) announced Monday that they will request a meeting with representatives from the Legislative Assembly to discuss two bills intended to give a boost to the tourism sector.

According to a press statement, Canatur hopes to lobby for the passing of the two bills, which the organization said were were originally submitted to the Legislative Assembly in 2006. The first bill Canatur will push for is the approval of $19 million in credit provided by the Inter-American Development Bank (BID). If approved, the credit would be used to finance a tourism program in protected wildlife areas.

The second bill on the agenda would revoke the current legislation that prohibits the purchase and sale of alcohol on Thursday and Friday of Easter week, known in Costa Rica as Semana Santa or Holy Week.

“We are requesting more attention for the national tourism sector from the national government,” said Juan Carlos Ramos, president of Canatur, in the press release. “We did a study and found that the passing of these bills would assist the sector and give it a push where it is necessary. We believe that there is a lack of vision to help the national tourism industry (by the government).” 

Ramos also said that the prohibition of alcohol sales and consumption on Thursday and Friday of Holy Week has resulted in a loss of sales for the tourism sector.

“The prohibition of the sale of alcoholic beverages during this period has had an opposite effect that what is intended,” Ramos said. “There is an excessive supply of alcoholic beverages during Holy Week, which means that prohibition is a useless measure for society and the tourism sector.”

According to Canatur, these bills were proposed five years ago though never discussed in the Legislative Assembly.

In 2010, the tourism sector generated more than $2.1 billion, which represents more than 5.5 percent of the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP). A record 2.1 million tourists visited Costa Rica in 2010.

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