Costa Rica National Parks Generate More Than $1 billion

Original: http://www.ticotimes.net/daily_paid/dailynewsarchive/2010_08/080510.htm#story4

By Mike McDonald
Tico Times Staff | mmcdonald@ticotimes.net

While the upkeep of Costa Rica’s national parks has cost government ministries millions of dollars, the protected areas have proven lucrative for private enterprises.

In 2009, national parks and biological reserves generated more than $1.5 billion

Ballena National Park

Sunset at Ballena National Park, Uvita, Costa Rica (Dec 2009)

for the Costa Rican economy, according to a study released on Thursday by the Center for Economic Policy for Sustainable Development, based at National University (CINPE-UNA).

More than 70 percent of this money went to tourism businesses such as restaurants, hotels, and transportation and travel agencies.

“Tourism is one of the most important sectors surrounding our national parks and protected areas,” said Gerardo Jiménez, director of CINPE-UNA.

The millions spawned by Costa Rica’s preserved plots accounted for 5 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product in 2009.

But the study, which included field research conducted at three national parks, found that Costa Rica and its citizens don’t always reap the bulk of the economic benefits.

In Rincón de la Vieja, a national park in the northwestern province of Guanacaste, 61 percent of the cash generated by the park leaves the country. It flows into the hands of international travel agencies and foreign tour operators.

Roughly 36 percent of the dividends go to national services, such as gas stations or the Costa Rican Water and Sewer Institute. A mere 2.2 percent of the income reaches local businesses around Rincón de la Vieja.

“We recommend that the country implement measures to increase this amount,” Jiménez said.

By contrast, almost all of the money generated by Palo Verde National Park in Guanacaste stayed in Costa Rica. International travel agencies took home approximately 7 percent of the money while local businesses saw nearly 30 percent of the capital.

The rest of the funds from Palo Verde went to national tour operators or suppliers.

While 70.18 percent of earnings went to tourism related business, the energy sector saw 26.3 percent of the earnings generated by the parks and reserves. This figure includes the revenue produced by hydroelectric or geothermal plants that depend on resources inside protected areas.

The remaining money trickled into employment – 1.7 percent – and park and reserve entrance fees – 0.93 percent.

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 Investing in More New Roads and Bridges

By Adam Williams
Tico Times Staff | awilliams@ticotimes.net
http://www.ticotimes.net/daily_paid/dailynewsarchive/2010_08/080210.htm#story3
The Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT) pledged on Friday to dedicate $33 million to the reconstruction or repair of 29 bridges along the northern portion of the Inter-American highway in Costa Rica. Most of the bridges in need of repair were built between 1944 and 1952.

A portion of the highway was re-opened on Saturday after being closed two days due to

New highway in Costa Rica

Costa Rica has invested heavily in recent years in roads.

reconstruction of a damaged bridge above the Río Seco, in Puntarenas province near the Central Pacific coast.

On Wednesday night, the river destroyed about 25 meters of the bridge. It was swollen due to heavy rains.

The closing of the highway hindered transportation to and from the northwestern Guanacaste region, as well as travel north and south along Central America’s most important roadway. Detour times were clocked at nearly five hours, as drivers had to take a winding mountain road between San Ramón and Tilarán, in the northwestern province of Alajuela.

The repairs to the bridge cost MOPT an estimated ₡ 50 million ($97,000). MOPT estimates that 400 trucks, 130 buses and around 4,000 cars travel the Inter-American Highway every day.

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.

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.

Message from Management: Feb 2010

February 23, 2010

Dear Investor/Owner/Prospective Client:

As we begin the new year I wanted to make certain you were fully appraised of the status of the project and the latest news in Costa Rica. With this in mind we present you the following overview:

Nick Halverson

CEO of Nick Halverson

Costa Rica
Like virtually all countries Costa Rica has experienced a challenging national economy. Tourism was up just slightly last year which is not good for the country, but great compared to other regions of the world. Unemployment is increasingly a problem as many construction projects have stopped. I would term the economy as “sluggish.”

On the other hand there are good signs for the future. The country has made a definite commitment to upgrade its road system. For example, within 90 days there will be an excellent modern highway system in place from the northern border of Costa Rica to the southern boundary.

In January a new highway connecting San Jose to the Pacific coast was opened. This project took over 40 years to complete since it was first proposed. The drive from San Jose’s airport/Alajuela to Jaco is now just over an hour. It used to be approximately 2.5 hours. This means that the time to travel from San Jose to our development will now be 3.5 hours rather than the previous 5 hours.

The modern highway is one mile from our project. The fact that there is now easy access to the south is very favorable.

Costa Rican President Elect Laura Chinchilla

La Presidenta de Costa Rica

In early February there was a national election. The new President is a woman who is prodevelopment while still insisting that the environment is protected. Her name is Laura Chinchilla and she will be in office for the next four years. Previously she served as Vice President under current President Oscar Arias. We look upon the election as a good sign. Click here for more information and some of my observations about the election.

The newest hospital in Costa Rica is operating well. Please remember that it is but about five miles from our development.

Finally the town of Palmar Norte, which is 15 minutes from Paradise Developers, has added several new stores and the municipality has paved more roads, while retaining the Costa Rican culture.

The Village of San Buenas
Because of the slow economy worldwide many development projects are moving at a slower pace than in the past. We continue to move forward at a steady pace after working through the sluggish 2009. Specifically:

1.  We now have sold 39 lots . This is excellent progress and we have approximately 80 more lots to sell.

2. We have water and electricity to a small portion of the project. We will add these as buyers decide to build their houses.

San Buenas House

House for rent: Village of San Buenas

3. The first house has been completed and built  on Lot # 9.  It is now being rented out at the rate of $1,500 per week. Within the next 30 days a website for the house will be developed and linked to the main website of www.villagecostarica.com The house will also be available for  serious prospects that can stay at the house for free if they purchase during their visit.

4. It appears that a buyer will be starting to build a house in the next 120 days. I have met with the architect on his behalf several times and we hope he can get all of his paperwork approved soon.

5. We continue to generate interest every week through our marketing efforts and our price points make it one of the most affordable Costa Rica real estate options available. The purchase process for most clients is twelve months (from first expressing interest to purchasing), however, those who move more quickly continue to receive great bang-for-buck (cash discounts) and first pick of the lots. I always encourage prospective clients to visit the property as soon as possible. This way, they get first hand experience of the views, the area and the other options available in the project. They also can meet with architects, myself, our property manager, our workers so they quickly feel a sense of community and what The Village of San Buenas is all about.

Every year we also have several “site unseen” buyers which is also an option. I don’t encourage it but everyone of our clients who has purchased and then visited has been thrilled with their purchase. I am continuing to add more photos and videos to provide clients from around the world the ability to see and hear what the project is about. The videos and photos don’t do justice as to how beautiful it really is. Even with several thousand photos and hours of video I can’t effectively show the friendliness of the people and the local community.

Here’s a link to some photos: http://villagecostarica.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/2010_janfeb_costarica.pdf

Here’s a link to some videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/SolPropertyGroupNick

6. We continue our Pay As We Go as a key strategy. Hence we have no long term debt.

7. Our biggest challenges for the balance of the year is to gradually build the infrastructure and to continue our sales momentum.

We continue to be optimistic about the future and are continuing to improve the project to exceed expectations.

Please check out the website at www.villagecostarica.com and review some photos from the last 60 days here 2010_JanFeb_CostaRica

You will notice we have a wide price range of lots available from the low $20,000’s to $294,000 based on location and views. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.

Nick Halverson
President
nick@solpropertygroup.com

612.819.8154