By Nicolas Liger

The ICT is Promoting Tourism in Samara and Nosara
• Hotels are looking to attract national and European tourists
• Crisis and the dollar’s instability are affecting the sector

The Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (ICT) hosted the Fair “Descubrí Guanacaste Sur” (Discover Southern Guanacaste), which was held on October 9th and 10th, at Multiplaza del Este in San José with the participation of the Samara Tourism Chamber and the Nosara Tourism Chamber.

The ICT, who was in charge of organizing the event, started a tourism development plan two months ago that includes this type of events. The goal is to promote the area as an important tourism center. Each participant received a free stand in which to showcase their best profile and, in addition, several hotel managers assisted those who attended the event in their search for fun and entertainment.

However some of the participants, such as Doris Peart, manager of the Samara Beach Hotel, expressed their doubts about the future, as did other managers of the southern region. “The global crisis has affected many of the area’s businesses”, Peart mentioned as she explained to the VON that several companies in Guanacaste have already gone out of business or are making staff cutbacks.

Peart, as the rest of the hotel owners who participated in the event, expressed that they do not wish to lay off their employees, with whom they “have worked and shared with for over 8 years” explained Peart referring to their senior employees. “On the contrary, we have reorganized our work shifts in order to gain efficiency” she added.

Alexandra Saborío, representative for the «Sueños Hoteleros» hotel chain, offered 20% and 30% discount coupons. All participating companies decided to promote attractive vacation packages to suit Costa Rican tourists and especially families that, in some cases, are looking for “home-like” accommodations in which they can cook for their relatives. Hotels are adapting to these new requests and are modifying their rates to fit the Ticos’ expectations.

Another business strategy being used by many companies at the Fair is a larger investment in money and time on the Internet in order to cross the ocean and reach Europe, where there is a more stable currency than the American dollar.

Nosara hotels such as Giardino Tropical, Hotel L’Acqua Viva or Hotel Ramal are betting on promoting their services, comfort and environmental commitment over the Internet. Randall Cortez, manager of L’Acqua Viva and member of the Nosara Tourism Chamber, mentioned that they participated “with the hope that more companies will support the work being done, understanding that only through a team effort will we be able to turn Nosara into a top tourist destination”.

The expectations for the upcoming season are positive, “we hope that there will be at least a 20 to 25% increase when compared to last year’s season and, based on the bookings that we’ve received so far, those are the predictions”, explained Cortez.

The Fair’s message was clear: the ICT is showing an interest in developing tourism throughout the country. However, the innovative initiative did not attract a large audience, showing that the we are in a slow-moving market, one in which every expense is carefully considered.