Leaders of government, business and diplomacy met at the the National Theater Tuesday to provide details about the massive new adventure park that Discovery will open in Guanacaste in 2020. Costa Rican officials responded at the press conference to environmental concerns about the project, which will include manmade water attractions in a region of the country heavily affected by droughts and water rationing.
Construction on the park, first announced by President Luis Guillermo Solís earlier in the week, will begin next year with an initial investment of $400 million, Discovery Costa Rica CEO John Scheman said at Tuesday’s event.
The company has already acquired a 880-hectare property located 2.3 kilometers (1.4 miles) from Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia. The property will host the Discovery Ranch, the center of the project that will also include Discovery Beach, Ocean and Volcano.
Thomas Turner, chairman of Sun Latin America, the project development company, said the company is currently evaluating options for the location of the other three destinations, “but they all will be in Guanacaste.”
The ranch will include hotels, a hospital, school and wellness complex, bike and hiking paths, sports training facilities, an inland ocean, a water park and cabins, as well as outdoor spaces of dry forests, ravines, and canyon cliffs overlooking the Liberia River.
Scheman noted that Discovery hopes the park will showcase Costa Rican “art, their music, and their folklore to the rest of the world.”
President Solís attended the press conference along with Vice President Ana Helena Chacón, as well as the Environment and Tourism Ministers Édgar Gutiérrez and Mauricio Ventura. U.S. Ambassador S. Fitzgerald Haney, lawmakers, various Guanacaste officials and tourism leaders also took part in the announcement event.
Solís welcomed the project and said Discovery’s decision to invest here shows that Costa Rica can commit to big investment and development plans “that are completely in line with our vision of sustainable development.”
Discovery representatives also confirmed that they will employ 2,000 workers during the construction stage and, once operational, will generate 4,000 direct and indirect jobs.
Vice President Chacón said they first heard of the project in 2015 when developer representatives presented them with the idea. Government officials have since held several meetings with the developers to agree on the project terms and requirements, Chacón said.
Minister Gutiérrez said the project already obtained all environmental feasibility permits, so developers can proceed with construction.
He added that “the project will not endanger the water supply in Guanacaste.”
The northern Pacific province has faced serious droughts in recent years that resulted in millions of dollars in losses to the agricultural and the livestock sectors, and have made water rationing a fact of live for residents of the province. In 2015, droughts prompted the National Emergency Commission to allocate more than ₡1 billion ($2 million) to assist Guanacaste’s farmers.
The minister said the project will supply its water from existing wells inside the property. These wells have valid and current permits from the Costa Rican Water and Sewer Institute and from the Environment Ministry’s National Subterranean Water and Irrigation Service, Gutiérrez said.
“The project will not use any water from any of the sources that supply the communities in the province,” he said.
He also stressed that the project will be submitted to the strictest environmental controls from all agencies involved.
“You can rest assured that we will not put our natural resources, nor any communities at risk,” he said.
See some renders of the project: