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Guanacaste Braces for Massive Wave of Tourists

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Playas del CocoJust in time for the holidays, popular tourist destinations such as Playas del Coco in Guanacaste are about to see a major influx of visitors. Although tourism and hospitality operators in Guanacaste and across Costa Rica have been working diligently over the years in making sure that their staff is fluent in English, from December 13th to January 5th they will mostly be catering to the needs of Spanish-speaking visitors.

According to Fiorella Valle of Guanacaste online news site Primero en Noticias, the National Chamber of Tourism (Spanish acronym: CANATUR) expects that 6 out of 10 households in Costa Rica will visit Guanacaste during the holiday season and the end-of-year traditional vacation period.

CANATUR is basing this forecast on a recent survey of 134 hospitality establishments in Guanacaste. According to the results of the survey, there is a general expectation of 78 percent occupation by most hoteliers, although in recent years such expectations have been surpassed. This expectation is greater than in the Central Valley, where only 72 percent of all available rooms are anticipated to be booked this season.

The forecast for the Central Pacific Coast of Costa Rica is even more optimistic: An occupation rate of 87 percent seen by hotel operators are easily achieved.

Penny-pinching Foreigners?

In Guanacaste, reservations among the 134 hotels surveyed by CANATUR currently sit at 60 percent. In recent years, the beaches of Guanacaste have been favored by foreign visitors, but trends among Costa Rican families on vacation indicate that they are getting ready to spend their hard-earned colones in the Gold Coast this year. This is certainly good news for regional hotels: According to an October report published by national newspaper La Nacion, foreign visitors to Costa Rica are spending less, particularly those who land at the Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport in Liberia (LIR).

CANATUR president Isabel Vargas told La Nacion that, as a tourism business operator, she has first-hand experience with this frugality by foreign visitors to Guanacaste, particularly among those who arrive from the U.S. and Canada. This penny-wise trend conforms to the global financial crisis, which Tico families seem to be brushing off –at least when it comes to local tourism. Flush with their aguinaldo (Christmas bonus or 13th month paycheck) money, they are not afraid to spend it on tourism activities, even if their wallets will regret it around mid-January.

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