Costa Rica Tourism Up 9 percent in 2010 vs 2009

According to the Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT), revenues from tourism accounted for

Costa Rica Tourism is up 9% in 2010

6.8 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2009 and over 7 percent in 2007 and 2008. In the last three years, earnings from tourism have averaged around $2 billion.

Through September of this year, the ICT reports that an estimated 1.6 million people have visited Costa Rica in 2010, a 9 percent increase over the same period in 2009.

Costa Rica Housing Expo – 2010

By Adam Williams
Tico Times Staff | awilliams@ticotimes.net
http://www.ticotimes.net/daily_paid/dailynewsarchive/2010_08/080410.htm#story1
The eighth edition of ExpoCasa, the Costa Rican national housing exposition, kicks off Wednesday afternoon at the Centro de Eventos Pedregal in San Antonio de Belén, in Heredia, northwest of San José. The expo, which runs through Sunday evening, will feature over 250 stands with information on renting or buying a home or property, financing a home, and real estates agencies, as well as items for home construction and décor.

Fifty of the stands will be dedicated to housing and property offerings in different regions of the country, including the Central Valley, mountain areas and beaches. Jason Alvarado, the spokesperson for the expo, said the sales prices of the homes offered range from $49,000 to $560,000 and that 12 national banks will be on hand to provide interested home owners and buyers with financing options.

“The reason ExpoCasa has always been so helpful for visitors is that it allows them to take care of many of the steps involved in buying a house or property all at the same place,” Alvarado said. “It makes the entire process of home ownership much easier.”

As many as 14,000 people are expected to visit ExpoCasa during the five-day event.

ExpoCasa Schedule
Wednesday – 1 to 10 p.m.; Inauguration at 5 p.m.
Thursday – 1 to 10 p.m.
Friday – 1 to 10 p.m.
Saturday – 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Sunday – 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Entry fee:
Wednesday through Friday: Free
Saturday and Sunday: ₡ 1,000; free for senior citizens and children under the age of 12.

House_Lot 9

House in The Village of San Buenas

Costa Rica Seeking More Investment from China

http://www.ticotimes.net/daily_paid/dailynewsarchive/2010_08/080210.htm#story4
By Chrissie Long
Tico Times Staff | clong@ticotimes.net
Even as the Chinese are putting the finishing touches on world class soccer stadium in San José’s La Sabana metropolitan park – a gift to the Central American country – Costa Rica is seeking more investment by the Chinese in infrastructure and in clean energy.

On Sunday, during a visit by China’s Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, Costa Rica made a pitch to its Asian ally to invest in a $221 million highway that would connect the country’s northern plains with the Caribbean port of Limón, among other infrastructure projects.

The plea comes at a time when Costa Rica’s highways are crumbling under heavy rains and the weight of years of postponed improvements. Just three days before Jiechi arrived, part of the country’s main highway north, which connects the country with the rest of Central America, was closed when part of a bridge over the Rio Seco collapsed (see story, below).

But Costa Rica’s foreign minister, René Castro, said the relationship should be a two-way street.

“They also have some ideas for advancement relating to biotechnology, cultural exchanges and sciences that are being developed,” he said, adding that he is looking for “a mature, win-win relationship” between China and Costa Rica in years to come.

Following a working session at the Foreign Ministry’s headquarters at the Casa Amarilla, in downtown San José, the two diplomats signed a cooperation agreement, which is expected to bring $6.2 billion in infrastructure improvements to Costa Rica.

Jiechi spent time with President Laura Chinchilla, Vice Presidents Alfio Piva and Luis Liberman, as well as the heads of the Security Ministry, the Foreign Trade Ministry and the Transportation Ministry.

Formal relations between Costa Rica and China began in 2007 during the Oscar Arias administration. In addition to the soccer stadium, China is also investing in the state-owned refinery in Moín and has purchased $300 million in bonds, among other projects.

South Pacific Costa Rica Popular Vacation Destinations This Year

By Matt Levin
Tico Times Staff | mlevin@ticotimes.net
http://www.ticotimes.net/daily_paid/dailynewsarchive/2010_07/073010.htm#story5
Costa Rica’s summer break vacation period saw many travelers heading toward the Central Pacific coast or to Monteverde, while fewer vacationers made the trip to Guanacaste, a traditional vacation hotspot for Ticos.

Ballena National Park, Uvita, Osa, Costa Rica

Photo: Nick Halverson. Ballena National Park, Uvita, Osa, Costa Rica

A survey conducted by the National Tourism Chamber (CANATUR) tracked the level of occupancy of hotels in nine different areas of Costa Rica during the last month.

The area with the greatest percentage of occupancy overall was the Central Pacific (65.4 percent), followed closely by Monteverde (64.6 percent) and the Southern Pacific (63.7 percent).

CANATUR said overall occupancy was a middling 56.1 percent.

Guanacaste, specifically its southern part (36.4 percent), saw the least growth. According to CANATUR, South Pacific hoteliers believed that opening the road to Caldera and the Costanera Sur highway from Quepos, attracted travelers to the area.

“We are very pleased because the occupation in the first half of July exceeded our expectations,” said Ulises Ramirez, manager of the Cristal Ballena Hotel in the Southern Pacific region. “Employers believe that hotels in this area benefited the opening of (the new roads), as this saved time for tourists travelling to the region.”

The northern parts of the country took in the most foreign tourists, with 76.9 percent of the total. The highest percentage of domestic tourists (45 percent) visited the Southern Pacific region.

Hotels in other regions attributed growth to mid-year promotions that pitched deals as last-minute options.

“The mid-year holiday season is important for the sector. However, this year was atypical because the promotions that the hotels offered served as last resorts in many cases. Poor weather also scared off tourists to the area,” said Luis Villegas, of the Hotel Montaña de Fuego, located in La Fortuna de San Carlos.

Average Occupancy by region during mid-year vacations:
Mid-Pacific 65.4%
Monteverde 64.6%
South Pacific 63.7%
Central Valley 56%
Northern Plains 56%
Caribbean 54.8%
North Guanacaste 52.9%
Puntarenas and Islands 51,7%
South Guanacaste 36.4%
Total: 56.1%

Costa Rica Tourism Up Through First 6 Months 2010

Source: http://www.insidecostarica.com

Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (ICT) – Costa Rica’s Tourism Board – has an optimistic outlook for this year, expecting to reach two million visitors for 2010. The optimism is based on the 3.96% increase in tourism the first half of this year as compared to the same period in 2009.

According to date by the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería (Costa Rica’s immigration service) the number of tourist arrivals from January to June 2010 was 1.124.044. In contrast, during the first half of 2009, 1.025.460 tourist arrivals were recorded.

Given these figures, the executive director of the Cámara Costarricense de Hoteles (CCH), Pablo Solano, despite the increase in tourist arrivals, the average occupancy rate reported by his membership has risen slightly over last year, averaging 60%.

Solano addedthat the hotel operators are positive that increase will continue due to the ongoing efforts by the Chinchilla government to attract more visitors to Costa Rica.

Tourist arrivals from the United States is still the most important market for Costa Rica, showing a 10% increase for this year, for a total of 468.172 visitors, 43.218 more than the first six months in 2009.

Nature Air: $5 Transfer Fee in San Jose (SJO) to Pavas

Airport Shuttle Service

To facilitate travel for Nature Air passengers arriving at and departing from the Juan Santamaria International airport (SJO), Nature Air offers an affordable VIP Shuttle Service directly to and from the Nature Air terminal at the Tobias Bolaños International Airport (SYQ).

For just $5 per person, passengers can make the ground connection between the two airports. One of our reps will meet and greet you at the airport and assist you with your luggage. All you have to do is sit back, relax and enjoy the friendly air-conditioned ride.

This service can be arranged and paid for in advance when booking your Nature Air flight by filling out the form below or directly at either airport with the Shuttle Coordinator, located at the orange Taxis Unidos stand in Juan Santamaria Airport or with the Concierge desk at any of Nature Air’s airports.

The shuttle departs three times per day from each location to accommodate most connections. For passengers arriving at Juan Santamaria, we recommend that you select an Airport Shuttle departure no sooner than one hour after your scheduled arrival.   Please allow for no less than one hour before your Nature Air flight is scheduled to depart when taking the Airport Shuttle from Juan Santamaria. Passengers looking to connect from Tobias Bolaños to Juan Santamaria should book the Shuttle 30 minutes or more after their arrival to Tobias Bolaños and three hours prior to your departure from Juan Santamaria for your international flight.

If your flight times do not correspond with the Shuttle schedule, or you prefer to arrange private transportation between airports, you may book this directly by contacting our reservations office: shuttle@natureair.com

The Tobias Bolaños International airport is located just 5 minutes from downtown San Jose, and approximately 20 minutes from the Juan Santamaria airport.

Nature Air chose Tobias Bolaños as its main hub to best accommodate the airline’s average 74 daily departures and arrivals to and from San Jose. As the main air service provider at Tobias Bolaños, Nature Air also avoids the frequent delays you typically find at the Juan Santamaria Airport. Our passengers do not have to deal with long security lines and traffic at other airports, and our facilities include a restaurant and other services for the comfort of our passengers. Additionally, our convenient proximity to downtown San Jose allows us to better serve local clients.