Though trade and tourism authorities’ efforts to coordinate the country’s self-promotion efforts during the upcoming World Cup appear to have fallen apart, the world will still get a taste of Costa Rican products, tourist destinations, art,music and cuisine as all eyes turn to Germany.
The Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT) plans to spend $6.7 million on ads during the tournament, including the inaugural game June 9 between Costa Rica and Germany (see separate story); the Foreign Relations Ministry has created a three-minute video promoting the country’s tourism destinations; and on Wednesday, the Foreign Trade Promotion Office (PROCOMER) launched a 20-day exhibition to show off Costa Rican businesses and culture at the Forum Deutschen Museum in Munich, with a total investment of $500,000.
Painter Manuel Zumbado, singer-songwriter Tito Oses, Grammy-winning musical group Editus, dance troupe Mi Linda Costa Rica and chef Oscar Castro are participating in the festivities.
In February, then-President Abel Pacheco signed a decree declaring the National Soccer Team’s participation in the World Cup “of national interest” and creating an inter-institutional committee to organize the Costa Rican promotion campaign. On board were not only PROCOMER and the ICT but the ministries of Foreign Relations, Foreign Trade and Culture, along with the National Soccer Federation (TT, Feb. 17).
However, according to the daily La Nación, this coordinated effort disintegrated a month later – at least in part because a delay in a necessary budget increase for the ICT meant the institute couldn’t keep up with PROCOMER’s desired pace. As a result, PROCOMER, the Tourism Institute, and Foreign Relations Ministry all developed their own plans.
Eduardo Villafranca, former head of the Costa Rican Tourism Chamber (CANATUR), lamented this lack of coordination.
“Getting another promotion opportunity such as this would be like winning the lottery twice,” he told La Nación.“A law must be created that frees the ICT from so much paperwork and facilitates investment.”
However, the three institutions are supporting each others’ projects, which center on the vision outlined in February of Costa Rica as a country of peace, nature, high-quality products, human development and soccer, Jorge Zamora, head of international marketing for PROCOMER, said last week.
“This provides us with an excellent showcase… for a concept we at PROCOMER call our ‘country brand,’” Zamora said.
The ICT will place one TV advertisement, expected to reach 25 million viewers of the 1 billion total, during the inaugural game. According to La Nación, the institute will also place ads on German television and in German newspapers, and provide information packets about Costa Rica to the international press at the tournament.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Relations Ministry’s video – with support from the ICT, PROCOMER, the Foreign Trade Ministry, CANATUR, private businesses and the Costa Rican Soccer Federation –will be on display on big screens in public places in Hamburg, Berlin, Hannover, Gunzburg, Heidelberg and Frankfurt, La Nación reported.
Art on Display
PROCOMER’s exhibition, entitled Costa Rica Arena, places a wide variety of products from 60 companies in the limelight, but has a special focus: exposing the German and international public to Costa Rican culture.
“We want to show that Costa Rica is a country that has high-quality art and artists,” Zamora said, adding that because the country already has a strong commercial relationship with Germany, Costa Rica’s second-largest buyer within the European Union, behind the Netherlands (TT, May 19), PROCOMER hopes to inspire sales of CDs and artwork in addition to current exports of bananas and coffee.
During the Costa Rica Arena exhibition, which ends June 11, visitors can sample live performances by Editus, Oses and Mi Linda Costa Rica; artwork by Zumbado and photographs by Sergio Pucci; screenings of Costa Rican films including 2004’s “Caribe,” whose director, Esteban Ramírez, gave PROCOMER permission to use the film for the exhibit; and cooking lessons from Castro, who will teach German chefs and members of the public how to cook with traditional Costa Rican ingredients such as cassava and pejibaye.
At the PROCOMER press conference last week, Castro joked that he’d teach “everything from gallo pinto to rice and beans,” referring to the typical breakfast dish and its Caribbean-coast counterpart. He added that German chefs will be able to put his lessons to good use in serving the many Costa Ricans expected to travel to Germany from around the world for La Selección’s games.
According to Zamora, PROCOMER has also formed partnerships with 20 restaurants in Munich that will promote Costa Rica during the tournament, with everything from platos típicos on the menu to waiters in tradition Tico garb.
ICT is participating in the exhibit, along with companies including the National Banana Corporation (CORBANA) and Café Américo, which will hold a coffee-tasting session.
Last week, Costa Rica’s trade relationship with Germany and other European countries became particularly important as leaders from Central America and the European Union announced plans to begin negotiations for a free-trade agreement. A business conference in San José last week brought Costa Rican business leaders in contact with representatives of the European business community (TT, May 19).