An agreement between the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT) and the Atlantic Port Authority (JAPDEVA) promises $5.7 million to improve tourism infrastructure in the growing Caribbean port city of Limón.
The agreement, signed last week by Tourism Minister Carlos Benavides and port authority president Walter Robinson, and overseen by President Oscar Arias, will promote various projects deemed beneficial to tourism in the region the next four years.
According to Benavides, the goal is to lure cruise ship visitors off the water and into town, where they can enjoy the local tours, shop and eat at Limón’s restaurants.
Between October, when the cruise ship season began, and April, when it typically ends, officials expect 139 ships and 240,000 passengers.
“There is an incredible amount of potential here.We need to take advantage of these opportunities,” Benavides said in a spirited speech at Limón’s cruise ship terminal Jan. 18.
Benavides said 30% of cruise ship tourists prefer to stay on their ship instead of visiting the town or region where the ship docks.
“They’re swimming in the ship’s pool instead of spending money in town,” he said.
Limón residents are excited about the opportunities, and the agreement signing, which was accompanied by dancing and festivities. César Rivera, owner of the El Faro Restaurant, which looks over the port and cruise ships, said he’s thrilled by the announcement.
“We’re happy to see the government paying so much attention to Limón. In the past, we’ve been best known for cargo ships, not cruise ships. This agreement will bring us what we need – more offerings for tourists,” he said.