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This day has been sponsored by : Ed Smith

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Week 7 Day 5 - "Tourism in Costa Rica"

"Costa Rica started developing its tourist activity since 1930, [...]. Furthermore, the fact that it possesses an outstanding 6% of world's total biodiversity, the existence of great areas of tropical forests and volcanoes, as well as an affinity to tourists and the ability to quickly travel from coast to coast, has favored it to be one of the preferred ecological and nature hotspots."* / *source

Mid-nineties: "The industry now employs half million Costa Ricans (17% of the population). On a par with bananas, tourism has become a major economic priority"** / ** source

2000: "While many Third World nations are focusing on rapid industrialization and urbanization, Costa Rica has turned to ecotourism as its key to economic development. [...] The nation's tourist industry brings in about 1 million visitors annually and generates approximately $1 billion a year, making it Costa Rica's second largest source of income after silicon chip production. (Dulude, 2000). In terms of bringing in foreign currency, tourism is second only to the electronic components sector led by INTEL, and it earns more foreign exchange than the nation's former staple exports, bananas and coffee, combined. (Country Commercial Guide, 2001)."*** / *** source

Today: "With the estimated arrival of nearly 2 million tourists to Costa Rica in 2008, and a projected income of nearly $3 billion for the tourism industry..." **** / **** source

Did you notice that in less than a decade, double the tourists are expected to bring in tripple the money? There is an enormous discrepancy between the income of Costa Ricans and "prices for tourists". Example: A driver who works for interbus, a hotel to hotel shuttle service between major tourist destinations, earns 180.000 CRC = 360 USD a months for 5 workdays per week, each between 12-16 hours; no overtime paid. He generally drives 6 passengers in the morning in one direction and 6 back in the afternoon. Each passenger pays around 25 USD one way = 300 USD per day = almost the driver's monthly income.

So far, I have not done much to support this industry, but I have added pictures from my excursion to Puntarenas on my first weekend after I arrived here; my visit to the Arenal volcanoe together with the other volunteers; my weekend excursions when Sarah was here: a III-IV class rafting on the Pacuare river and a canopy / ziplining tour in San Lorenzo. I definitely want to repeat the rafting... it was fantastic!

I had planned to go to the beach this weekend and celebrate New Year's there "like ALL Costa Ricans do"... which must be true, as it was impossible to find accomodation (unless I was prepared to pay 750 USD or more for three nights). No beach for me... yet.


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Ed... I thought you might like this topic...