- Category: Business
- Published on Friday, April 29 2011 04:10
- Written by Rod Hughes
- Hits: 844
How is tourism, hit hard by the 2008-9 world recession, recovering? Well, it is getting better, but Chamber of Tourism (Canatur) president Juan Carlos Ramos doesn’t seem exactly euphoric about it. The number of tourists has increased, but they stay an average of 1.5 nights fewer and spend $158.20 less per head than before the economic downturn. Tourism got blasted by a double whammy a couple of years ago—numbers were down and the dollars they brought were worth less compared with the rate of exchange for the pre-crisis colones they had to pay their expenses with. Probably only the construction sector was hit harder.
Yes, Ramos acknowledged to the business newspaper El Financiero, the industry is recovering. Tourism last year was up 9.2% over 2009, that is, 2.1 million visitors. He looks for another 5% increase this year, “conservatively.”
“Maybe this isn’t as fast as we’d like,” Ramos says, “but maybe, like last year, it will increase more (than 5%).” Again conservative, he estimates hotel occupancy at 80% this year.
He cited the opening of Guanacaste’s Daniel Oduber International Airport in the heart of the beach resort area on the Pacific Ocean and the signing of an open sky pact with Brazil as reasons for optimism. The latter opens a tourist market of 40 million persons.
To better attract customers, Ramos urges better marketing, especially on the Internet. “Hotels and tourism operators offer basically the same thing. They need to differential themselves more.”