SAN JOSE, Costa Rica -- With visitor arrivals in Costa Rica having
surpassed the 1 million mark in 1999, the country continues to earn
its accolades as the darling of Central American tourist
And no market is more dear to Costa Rica than the U.S., which is
the destination's leading producer of inbound visitors with 392,217
Travel agents, tour operators and meeting planners, the majority
from the U.S., were among the 500 buyers and sellers who attended
Expotur 2000, the country's leading forum to showcase its
attractions and new products to the international travel
This 16th annual trade show was held at the Herradura Hotel
& Conference Center last month.
During a briefing prior to the trade show, the new Costa Rican
minister of tourism, Walter Niehaus, pointed out that with local
suppliers adding new tour products and international wholesalers
expanding their travel offerings, "inbound tourism continues to
grow at close to 10% annually."
This year, growth will be supported by a $6.2 million promotions
According to Niehaus, the government is working hard to improve
the country's infrastructure, especially airport facilities and
road system quality.
Of particular importance to tourism development and traveler
comfort is the long-awaited, $25 million airport terminal at Juan
Santamaria Airport, due to go into operation in August.
The new terminal will have 11 gates (in contrast to the present
terminal, which contains six), and the size of the current
terminal's check-in areas will nearly double.
Resurfacing local roads and improving the signage is another
government priority, and after several days of long-distance
driving from San Jose to the Pacific coast and south to Quepos, as
well as from the capital to Limon on the Caribbean, this Expotur
delegate can attest to an almost miraculous improvement in the
major roadways, even since last year.
A new feature on the Expotur 2000 schedule was a Circuits of
Costa Rica program, offering travel industry delegates a choice of
five pre-conference fam tours to different corners of the
The following regions were highlighted:The Guanacaste region, located on the northwest Pacific coast,
is known for its vast savannas, cattle ranches and dozens of
beaches, many of which are being developed under the Gulf of
Papagayo tourism project.
Clients are offered a wide variety of water sports such as
sportfishing and surfing, all of which can be combined with visits
to national parks such as Santa Rosa and Rincon de la Vieja.The Central Pacific region boasts a rich biodiversity contained
in its beaches and forests, highlighted by the flora and fauna of
Manuel Antonio National Park and Punta Leona Private Reserve, the
rich birdlife of the Carara Biological Reserve and the area's new
attraction, the Rain Maker Nature Refuge.The Central Northern region, a part of the country well known
for the Poas and Arenal volcanoes and the biological reserves in
Monteverde, now showcases a variety of new tourism facilities, such
as the International Water Ski Center on Lake Arenal.
New attractions in the area include Sky Walk and Canopy
tours.The Caribbean region, nowadays viewed as the new frontier of
Costa Rica tourism, is a region of lush vegetation, with tropical
birds, monkeys and crocodiles that make themselves at home in the
national parks of Tortuguero.
The parks feature a navigable system of canals and Cahuita,
whose main attractions are white sands, miles of coconut groves and
a coral reef.
Tortuguero is well served by jungle lodges perched along the
waterways, and there are many small, new inns along the Caribbean
coast in and around Puerto Viejo.The South Pacific region, an area that National Geographic
magazine called "the most biologically intense place on earth,"
offers its visitors some of the most unspoiled rain forests in the
world, including Corcovado.
Monkeys, scarlet macaws and orchids surround the jungle lodges
and tented camps located mostly in the Osa Peninsula, and nature
mixes easily with beaches and water sports around Golfo Dulce,
Drake Bay and the Marenco lodging centers.
Costa Rica Tourist Board
Phone: (800) 343-6332