The tourism sector has been shocked by the recent unfortunate events, and has expressed solidarity towards Aranxa’s and María Trinidad’s families, as has been concerned and shown support towards the industry and the communities where such dreadful situations happened. The country of “Pura Vida” and “Perpetual Happiness” has made headlines due to these events in such paradisiac places. These situations are able to destroy Costa Rica’s hard work on building a successful branding and image. The Costa Rican Institute of Tourism (ICT) as managed by María Amalia Revelo, has executed an excellent job on focusing on attending, assessing and supporting the affected families; as well as re-assigning financial support towards boosting security in rural areas.
Constitutionally, Security is a matter of the State, but as citizens, we all must collaborate. For this to happen, we must all assess and collaborate with tourists, informing them on the safest ways to travel and develop their vacation in our country. Recommending where to go and what places to avoid, suggesting return schedules, where it’s safe to transit and were it’s not, pointing out what beaches it is safe to swim in, etc. We must take care of our main income as a country: tourism with its $3.8 billion revenue, generating over 459,000 direct and indirect job opportunities. Tourism is one of the most important economic motors of our country and provides for 20.4% of the active population. The tourism industry is the most diverse and permeable of all industries, and covers from the most inhospitable zones to the South, to the most remote areas in the North of our country, along with thousands of tour-operators that provide for many rural families who would fall into poverty. The Social Progress Index (IPS), along the touristic areas, are great examples of Sustainable Development, such as: los Santos de Dota, Monteverde, Turrialba and la Fortuna de Tilarán, where the population is granted not only with more and better job opportunities, but with a general perception towards better service, personal security and health as well as environmental quality.
Costa Rica must provide safety not only for tourists but for its population as well, and become a place where one can walk freely without fearing being robbed and/or killed. These unfortunate events were like an “announced death chronicle” due to the current wave of criminality and violence which is now affecting the touristic enterprise. We should be able to rely confidently on an effective local justice system which is effective and counts on a tough and pronounced Justice Ministry attacking delinquency. Sustainability must be as well an applied priority on behalf of the government and not just the private sector. The government must be prominent on maintaining the country a safe, prosperous place where we can become a better society.
It’s of great importance to denote that tourist safety must also be promoted along coasts and beaches where many local and international tourists have unfortunate deaths by drowning in tho ocean. The necessary measures must be undergone by Municipalities and community leaders. Note that currently, we’re ranked by the American Embassy as the country with the second most casualties due to drowning in America. We need better signaling, more lifeguards and clear warnings to protect visitors and locals in order to stop being so indifferent towards human lives.
Negative news in social media are far from helping. As a society, we must be aware of the importance of Tourism in Costa Rica, and avoid feeding negative information that affects the country’s reputation internationally. With a proactive positive attitude we can create a better country. Costa Rica is a wonderful destination, full of nature and wonderful people, but let’s not forget that tourism dies off without safety. It is our responsibility to aim for a safe place for citizens and tourists to enjoy.
Fernando Madrigal Anderson.
President of Eco Tourism and Sustainable Tourism Office