San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rica's tourism sector expects high occupancy rates during holiday season

Still deciding where to spend your holiday vacation? Costa Rican hotels are filling up fast for the upcoming year-end holidays, with hotel owners expecting eight of every 10 rooms to be occupied, according to a recent survey by the National Tourism Chamber (CANATUR).

A similar study last year tallied barely 50 percent occupancy rates.

According to the survey, this year’s boost in part stems from a greater demand by foreign tourists visiting Costa Rica. But more Costa Ricans also plan to spend their holiday in local hotels.

“A large number of local tourists plan on taking advantage of the holidays,” CANATUR President Isabel Vargas said. “We noted a greater willingness to spend money on travel and recreation.”

Hotel owners expect 78 percent occupancy by Dec. 24, but CANATUR said that number could increase.

The survey shows that Ticos prefer beach destinations over mountainous and other regions.

Owners of beach lodging expect 87 percent occupancy, while those in mountainous regions and the Central Valley expect approximately 60 percent.

Locations like Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, in north-central Costa Rica, and businesses in the Nicoya Gulf expect 70 percent occupancy. Locations in the northwestern province of Guanacaste surveyed at 65 percent expected occupancy, while Central Pacific locations expect 61 percent occupancy.

According to CANATUR, demand for Pacific-region destinations can be attributed, in general, to easier and better access by road and by air.

The survey was conducted among 134 lodging establishments in the regions of Guanacaste, Puntarenas, the Central and South Pacific, the Caribbean, the northern region and the Central Valley. Its goal is to monitor tourism business expectations at the start of the high season.

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