Most Beach Concessions Belong to Foreigners

March 18, 2005

EIGHTY-ONE percent of concessionsin the Maritime Zone, along CostaRica’s coast, are awarded by the governmentto foreign-owned or foreign-administratedbusinesses, according to a reportby the weekly El Financiero. The reportalso reveals disorganization in the processof awarding concessions.A total of 177 concessions are registeredwith the Costa Rican TourismInstitute (ICT), of which 81% are in foreignhands and 19% are in the hands ofnationals, according to the business andfinance newspaper.The first 200 meters of coastal land inCosta Rica, the Maritime Zone, is consideredpublic territory. However, the governmentcan grant concessions to leaseand build on lands stretching from the 50-meter mark to the 200-meter mark, asmeasured from the high-tide mark.According to the report, most concessionshave been granted along the northernPacific coast in the province ofGuanacaste. The fewest concessions havebeen granted in the Caribbean province ofLimon.The investigation also reveals that the“institutional structure involved in theseconcession has serious faults, and occasionalviolations of the Maritime ZoneLaw of 1977.”“There is disorder in the granting ofthese rights, failures in the computerizedregistration of requests and their participants,as well as in Regulatory Plans,which are an indispensable requirement inthe ability to grant these concessions,” thenewspaper reports.The disorder has resulted in the grantingof more than one concession to oneperson and the granting of concessions tocompanies controlled by foreigners, bothof which are prohibited by law, accordingto the newspaper.In addition, individuals and businessowners have constructed buildings in theMaritime Zone without possessing concessions.The report finds fault with 21 municipalitiesresponsible for administrating andoverseeing the concessions, as well aswith the ICT, which has a say in the concession-granting process.The beach concessions amount tomore than 16.6 million square meters –three times the area of San José.U.S. citizens participate in the majorityof the concessions, although Canadian,Italian, Mexican and Spanish citizens arealso involved, the newspaper reported.

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