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ICT’s goal is to promote rural tourism in the regions


Rural tourism will gain more importance within the strategies that the Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT) is applying to enhance tourist industry, thanks to the efforts of this administration supported by the President of Costa Rica who signed an Executive Decree that declares the activity an issue of national importance.

“There is no doubt that tourism is a pathway to promote development, well being and create jobs for local communities. Tourism has proven to be one of the most effective ways to increase the quality of life for the families in rural zones,” stated Oscar Arias, President of the Republic of Costa Rica.

According to the Minister of Tourism, Carlos Ricardo Benavides, small towns and rural tourism help communities and organizations to prosper and generate new opportunities for development, especially the more economically challenged sectors of the country.

“Promoting small town and rural tourism is a way to fuel local economies, and increase the income of the families from the rural areas. Moreover, it creates sustainable tourism and helps develop communities with an enormous potential that are currently considered deprived areas in the country,” said Carlos Ricardo Benavides, Minister of Tourism.

Benavides also added that the declaration of national importance regarding this sector will help to expand efforts initiated by the government to promote a region that had a growth of approximately 116% in its annual operations.

The government is also committed to assure the best quality of services offered in small towns and rural areas to local visitors and foreigners who, through rural tourism can experience the identity of the Costa Rican culture, the country’s natural attractions and, of course, the warmth of its people.

According to the Decree, the sector is defined as the activity, developed by the local community, that will allow visitors to enjoy a planned and integrated tourist experience through sustainability.

Also, by Decree, the ICT is put in charge of formulating strategies for the national development of the sector, in addition to coordinating and conducting a wide broadcasting process concerning the national importance of the sector. The ICT will also assist other public entities, municipalities, autonomous institutions and private entities with the objective of coordinating actions for the development and regulation of small towns and rural tourism. Last but not least, the ICT will assure the development of the activity within the policies of sustainable development.

Some of the efforts that the ICT is carrying out in order to enhance small towns and rural tourism have lead to the creation of an operational manual that will help to implement a regulatory framework. Its purpose is to establish three categories within this sector referring to small town and rural tourism farmland, travel agencies and rural housing.

A study conducted by the institution revealed that not only does this activity boost the local economy, but it also enhances Costa Rican traditions, and protects the local environment through sustainable practices. It also enables communication between local communities and companies, which ultimately improves local economic competitiveness.

Regarding the creation of jobs, the study showed that in the regions where these practices are followed, the final result is that for each rural tourism company created at least nine jobs are generated.

The majority of these organizations are located along the regions of the Northern Plains, Chirripó, Middle Pacific, Central Valley and the South Caribbean and during the year 2006 they catered to at least fourteen thousand tourists.

The challenges that this sector faces for the following years refer to major studies of the market to differentiate between local and foreign necessities. This would include the acquisition of basic operation permits, the improvement client service attention and the promotion of tourist packages for companies, in order to attract more visitors.

ICT Costa Rica Tourism Board (January 17., 2007) San Jose, Costa Rica