San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
National parks

Solís blocks added sales tax on national park entrance fees, a decree passed days before he took office

Last Friday, President Luis Guillermo Solís and Environment Minister Edgar Gutiérrez signed a decree eliminating a 15 percent sales tax on national park entrance fees. The act reverses a controversial decree that went into effect last week, angering business owners in the tourism sector.

The previous decree was approved by the administration of ex-President Laura Chinchilla (2010-2014) on April 30 — just days before Solís took office — and became official last Wednesday when it was published in the official newspaper La Gaceta.

Many of Costa Rica’s tourism chambers opposed the measure. National Tourism Chamber (CANATUR) President Pablo Abarca said it originated from an interpretation by Environment Ministry officials of a 2006 Finance Ministry guideline on how the Sales Tax Law – adopted in 1982 – should be applied to recreational activities.

Representatives for CANATUR and the Costa Rican Association of Tour Operators said the decree would have reduce the average stay of foreign tourists  – currently eight to 12 days – by at least one day.

“One day less means losses of some $184 million a year in revenue for us,”  Abarca said in late July.

On Monday, Abarca said tourism chambers were satisfied with Solís’ decision. But Abarca added that another decree could be in the works, and the chamber would oppose any move by the Finance Ministry to add new taxes to tourism activities.

Solis’ decree will become official when published in La Gaceta, likely later this week.

Contact L. Arias at

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Agreed Laura made the conscious decision to show her true colors on several decisions at the end.
Hopefully this is only the start of reform in Costa Rica to improve living conditions for Ticos and also increase tourist business. Too many poachers and illegal operations making the national parks appear unsafe to the world.

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Doña Laurita in her fanal moments as presidenta seems to have been hell-bent on securing the memory of her unpopularity her decree to tax park entrance fees.

I am hoping that Presidente Solís will prevail in curbing much of the misappropriation of tax revenues. If he be successful in doing that then there may be far less reason to collect more taxes such as the one on Nation Parks’ entrance fees.

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