Adventure tourism companies would have a period of 3 months to have personnel trained in specific activities and accredited by the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT), due to a decree issued by the government on June 16th, 2022, which establishes a new transitory to the application of the regulation for activities of this sector.
It is the “Regulation for the Operation of Adventure Tourism Activities” that since 2016 has undergone a series of extensions with the intention that the personnel of these companies, who have the ICT tourist declaration, could be certified and be in rule. Hiking, horseback riding, paragliding, rafting, kayaking, canopy, rappelling, and the use of ATVs are part of the activities that are included in the nomination of adventure tourism.
The reasons given by some companies for not having certified their staff in these six years are not valid, according to Luis Diego Madrigal, president of the National Federation of Tourist Guide Associations of Costa Rica (Fenaguitur), who asks the companies and tourists use certified guides. “The reason why they are claiming is under the excuse that I do not have time, I could not send those promoters to certify, the INA did not attend to me; 6 years have passed without complying with a regulation; there are 3 thousand families of guides who have been certified, who have studied, who are not being used because they give space to non-accredited tourism promoters”, said Madrigal.
On the other hand, despite the efforts of the National Learning Institute (INA) to train personnel in adventure activities, the quotas are not filled due to a lack of interest, according to Lucía Sánchez, president of the Costa Rican Association of Guides of Tourism (Acoguitur). “We do not want one more extension, we want things to be done in the best way, we have proposed to be able to help these tour operators in the process of training their collaborators; the regulation is not belittling anyone, but rather it is saying, you already carry out adventure tourism activities with that knowledge you already have, now what we need is for you to prove it by obtaining a credential that certifies it”, said Sánchez.
The counterpart of this position is that of a business group of adventure tourism activities, which ensures that the staff they have has years of experience developing the work, for which the application of the regulation would generate a large number of unemployed people, as well as a lack of certified guides in the adventure area.
In this sense, with the aim of not demanding a mandatory certification requirement, former deputy Otto Guevara, who supports this position, asks that the 2016 regulation be repealed or modified. “Certifications have to be voluntary, if you have so many hours of experience, go and get certified voluntarily; if the company considers that your guides should know about environmental legislation or customer service, that they are courses that do not require mandatory, to that the person can dedicate himself to economic activity”, said Guevara.
Meanwhile, the National Chamber of Tourism (Canatur) indicated that it respected the government’s decision on the new transitory and that it has always advocated that adventure tourism companies be formal and legal businesses, adjusted to all State regulations. “The Chamber has placed itself at the orders of the administration to collaborate in the construction of a definitive solution for all the people who live from this activity and those who in the future decide to dedicate themselves to it. We hope to reach a balanced solution that allows us to guarantee the safety of companies and tourists in each of the adventure activities, without putting the jobs of these people at risk”, said Shirley Calvo, executive director of Canatur.
The elaboration of a new regulation to regulate these adventure tourist activities is what several companies and chambers are promoting, to find a solution that benefits all parties and guarantees the safety of the users of the services. For its part, seeking the safety of tourists and ensuring the operation of tourism companies in the position of the ICT, they will coordinate with all the institutions involved in the necessary actions to find the definitive solution.
REGULATIONS FOR THE OPERATION OF ADVENTURE TOURISM ACTIVITIES
Article 12 on the qualified guide:
To develop any adventure tourism activity, the tourist provider must have the intervention of trained and qualified guides for each specific activity that is carried out, who must have the proper license granted by the Costa Rican Tourism Institute in the respective category, by the Decree No. 31030-MEIC-TUR of January 17th, 2003, “Tourist Guide Regulations” and its reforms.