The Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT) will allocate US$ 3 million in a 3-year period (US$ 1 million-per-year), with the possibility of extending it for 3 more years, with the objective of optimizing the infrastructure and services conditions of the Protected Wildlife Areas (ASP) to provide adequate facilities that improve the experience for all visitors.
This will be done thanks to an agreement that was carried out during the presidency of Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera, on the occasion of the national park’s commemoration. It is a cooperation agreement between the ICT and the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE) through the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC). It is important to mention that the agreement will be valid until 2019, with the possibility of extending it for an equal period.
“Tourism is the engine of social and economic development of the country and undoubtedly represents the effective tool to promote the sustainability of the Protected Wildlife Areas. Therefore, it is highly relevant that efforts be made in order to improve the conditions of these important tourist sites, in order to provide an even more pleasant experience for both locals and foreigners”, said Solis, the main precursor of this important investment.
Mauricio Ventura, Minister of Tourism, explained that the Protected Wildlife Areas represent a valuable tourist resource, which is why it was a priority to work together with the MINAE to specific projects that strengthen the ASPs, encouraging visitors to a sustainable interaction with these areas and also the improvements in promoting the social and economic dynamism of the surrounding communities.
“According to the World Economic Forum, Costa Rica in tourism is N° 1 in nature and N° 2 in adventure among 141 countries around the world and this reputation must undoubtedly be attributed to our Sustainable Tourism Development Model in which the Protected Wildlife Areas play a fundamental role.
Costa Rica sells travel experiences, in which we have been gaining ground over the years and in this strategy, so it was vital to articulate efforts that allowed us to work together to improve our tourism product and ensure that this travel experience is memorable, worthy of repeating and recommending”, explained Ventura.
The investments that are executed will seek to encourage tourism activity in the ASPs, promote the development or strengthening of infrastructure, equipment, services, and installation, as well as technological and management services for the ASPs in search of continuous improvement in the quality of the tourist experience that can be offered.
As part of the agreement, the MINAE-SINAC will be in charge of making a diagnosis of the current situation of the ASPs in order to prioritize the investments that are necessary to contribute to improving the quality of the tourism experience and its management. Therefore, SINAC will send a biennial investment plan for these purposes, as well as a list of the needs required by the protected areas, which will be evaluated and analyzed by the ICT.
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The first beneficiaries were the Tenorio and Manuel Antonio Volcano national parks. In the case of the Tenorio volcano, affected by the passage of hurricane Otto in November 2016, the money will be used to build accesses, a payment booth, health services, a nurse’s office, an office for local guides, a store and a path that it will be called “Misterios del Tenorio” (Tenorio Mysteries). Currently, there is the complete design of the works and the environmental viability issued, so as to be completed in the next 6 months.
In parallel, there will be an investment in the design and construction plans of the Visitors Center in the Manuel Antonio National Park. This project consists of a building that includes a nature shop and cafeteria, waiting areas, meeting rooms and exhibition halls, administrative offices and payment booths. In addition, a covered area will be designed for buses, in order to facilitate the approach of tourists and improve visitor attention.
“The Protected Wildlife Areas are the main driving force of tourism that visits the country and also of great importance for Costa Ricans and residents who want to know the great biological diversity that they harbor. That is why the investment in infrastructure and the management of its sustainability are the main objectives of this agreement between MINAE-SINAC and the ICT, being key to guaranteeing both the proper handling of the precious resources of our areas as well as adequate attention to its visitors and neighboring populations”, said Edgar Gutiérrez, Minister of Environment and Energy.