After many years of waiting, Costa Rica and El Salvador announced the entry into operation of the cargo services of a ferry between the two countries, with the intention of facilitating the transport of merchandise through the Central American region.
The service will begin operations in August and is expected to initially make two trips per week between Puerto La Unión in El Salvador and Puerto Caldera in Costa Rica, with a maximum capacity per ship of 100 vans, thus reducing travel time from five to six days to just 18 hours.
However, there is also another important plan that could materialize in a period of six months, in a second stage of the ferry, which would be the tourist transport that would allow the transit of people between Costa Rica and El Salvador.
The representatives of Transmares Costa Rica confirmed that tourism services are contemplated in a second part, once cargo transportation has been consolidated.This could even increase the number of weekly trips the vessel makes by up to three.
“Why don’t we start at once?
Because both governments asked us, being a new service, to first organize ourselves with what is cargo, which is what is most complicated and new for carriers, and that we later include the tourism service”, said Mario Rodríguez, general manager of Transmares Costa Rica.
The ship has a capacity of 73 cabins for tourists, which include between two and four berths (double beds) for passengers, which could reach a capacity of approximately 200 people per trip. This would represent a maximum number of 2,400 individuals per month if the ferry made three trips per week.
Until now, the cost that would be charged per person for the tourism service has not been estimated, since it is waiting to consolidate the cargo service and update the costs that the displacement of these 200 passengers would imply.
“A whole family could come, a bus with tourism, it would be more than a whole new flow of people, nothing complicated. It would be the attention with a ship, a normal cruise, that brings passengers and tourism, there would be no additional change in terms of the statutes or documentation that is requested today when a tourist arrives via cruise ship, ”explained Rodríguez.
Apparently, both the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT) and the Salvadoran Tourism Institute have high expectations of offering this service in the medium term, according to Transmares Costa Rica.
“According to both tourism institutes, there is a good influx of tourists between both countries, but there is no exact estimated number. At least here in Costa Rica, the ICT is very happy, waiting for the second phase to arrive so that it can fully integrate into the project,” Rodríguez added.
The ferry will be operated by the private company Blue Way Corporation and departure times will be Monday and Thursday from El Salvador, while from Costa Rica it will be Tuesday and Friday.