VACATIONERS’ fear and uncertainty,rather than high water, has sunkenbusiness for hotels, restaurants, and tourguide companies in Sarapiquí andTalamanca, two regions on theCaribbean slope that suffered the mostflood damage.The Costa Rica Tourism Institute(ICT) this week called on travelers to supportthe small and medium-sized businessesin the region, saying the roads topopular tourist towns are in good conditionand the businesses are suffering fromlack of clientele.Many tourists cancelled their trips tothose areas after last week’s heavy rainsand severe floods. Nevertheless, businessesthroughout the Caribbean coast,north and south, have been running normallythroughout the flooding, whichdevastated lowland and riverside communities,but left most tourist destinationsintact.No flooding occurred in the beachtowns on the southern Caribbean coast –from Cahuita to Puerto Viejo deTalamanca down to Manzanillo – but thetourists left, according Wendy Strebe,owner of Cashew Hill Jungle Lodge inPuerto Viejo and Tico Times CommunityConnection contributor.“Reservations have been cancelled atan alarming rate in beach communitieswhere the sun shone from Tuesday, Jan.12 through Sunday, Jan. 16. This is turninginto a completely unnecessary secondarydisaster for the region’s economy,”she wrote via e-mail.She said hotels, restaurants, tour companiesand the entire tourism industry issuffering from this misinformation, in themiddle of high season.Olman Barboza, president of Limón’sChamber of Industry, Commerce andTourism, agreed.“We invite people to come to Limón.The highways are open, the businesses areoperating; now we need people to visit usand not to change their vacation plans, tocome and enjoy the attractions the regionoffers,” he said.According to the ICT, the situationwas similar in Sarapiquí, in thenorthwestern plains of the Herediaprovince.“We thank God we didn’t suffer anytype of harm and neither did any of ouremployees. We stand in solidarity withthose who were affected, sending whathelp we can, and above all servingtourists to continue producing for ourregion and our families,” said BeatrizGámez, owner of Hotel La Quinta deSarapiquí.
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