San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rica tourism chamber lobbies against bill that would redirect funds from Tourism Board to conservation areas

Leaders of the National Tourism Chamber (CANATUR) on Tuesday told members of the Legislative Assembly’s Environmental Commission that they oppose a bill that would reduce by 50 percent the Costa Rican Tourism Board’s (ICT) budget to promote the country.

Bill No. 18,251 proposes that funds collected from a $15 tax charged on plane tickets to Costa Rica be distributed equally between the ICT and the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) — part of the Environment Ministry  to pay for purchased or expropriated land for the establishment of national parks, as well as for infrastructure and service improvements in protected areas.

SINAC officials and several conservation groups have previously voiced their support for the proposal.

CANATUR members, however, believe the cuts would affect the ICT’s promotional efforts, which they said “currently are already low compared to those of other regional countries that compete with Costa Rica in attracting tourists,” according to chamber president Pablo Abarca.

“Following the global financial crisis, the tourism sector in Costa Rica has experienced a slight recovery, supported mostly by continuous ICT investment in international promotion and marketing. But those investments are still substantially lower than what other regional countries are currently spending,” Abarca said on Tuesday morning.

Tourism entrepreneurs said proposed budget cuts would leave Costa Rica at a clear disadvantage compared to destinations such as Panama, El Salvador, Colombia and other countries that have “tax incentives, more competitive public policies and a strong strategy for attracting more airlines,” CANATUR said in a statement.

Abarca said members of the tourism sector are aware of the important role Costa Rica’s national parks play in drawing tourists, but the bill’s provisions “threaten promotions of all the country’s tourist destinations, including national parks.”

CANATUR is asking lawmakers to table the bill. They also want a meeting between Environment Ministry officials and members of ICT to draft a new bill that would benefit both agencies.

Lawmakers are expected to discuss the bill at the Assembly’s Environmental Commission on Thursday.

Contact L. Arias at

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Mark Kahle

I agree with Rick… If the money is to be split up put into security and police training. Something to lower response time and increase presence while reducing corruption.

While the basic work of the environmental Ministry and its’ innumerable alphabet of sub organizations is laudable it can find all the money it needs by simply cleaning house of the dead weight.

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Rick Nelson

SINAC already has way too much power and resources, the ICT is extremely ineffective, most of the time they are telling us what a great job they are doing and misleading business owners into getting loans which they are unable to repay. True justice would be-> return those funds to every CR resident. The Gov’t uses the tourism industry as a senseless excuse to ban many other forms of development, this means every single resident pays the price (Opportunity Cost] because most entrepreneurs end up having to leave the country.

In lieu of returning these funds to the citizenry they are abusing, the funds ought to go toward personal security which would do more toward attracting tourists than any marketing schemes, while improving the quality of life for residents.

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