THOUGH hotel investment increased significantly in 2005 – and though most hotels have room to spare during most of the year – hotels have, as in past years, had to turn away tourists because of lack of space.
According to a survey of 58 members of the National Tourism Chamber (CANATUR), conducted by the chamber itself, those hotels turned away 45% of the tourists looking for rooms during the December-May high season, the daily La Nación reported. Several hotel-owners in the northwestern province of Guanacaste said this tendency is likely to repeat this year.
The number of new hotel rooms has consistently fallen short of projections in recent years, Tourism Minister Rodrigo Castro said at the start of 2005. Attracting more hotel investment was one of the top priorities for the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT) last year at this time (TT, Jan. 7, 2005).
Figures from the ICT show a more than 300% increase in hotel investment for 2005 (a total of $199 million) compared to 2004, but Castro told La Nación that excessive paperwork requirements, a lack of adequate internal financing and changing investment requirements continue to pose problems to potential investors.
Carlos Roesch, president of the Costa Rican Hotel Chamber (CCH), told the daily that the country has approximately 35,000 hotel rooms designed for tourists, but there’s an annual deficit – mostly incurred during the high season – of 700- 1,000 rooms.
Last year, Costa Rica received 1.6 million tourists (TT, Jan. 13) – an increase of approximately 15% over last year’s total.