The Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT) and the National Tourism Chamber (CANATUR), together with other Central American tourism ministries, are singing the region’s praises at the International Tourism Fair (FITUR) in Madrid this week in hopes of regaining some of the much-needed tourists lost when the Spanish airline Air Madrid shut down, according to Gonzalo Vargas, president of CANATUR.
Seven Central American counties – Costa Rica, Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama – together with TACA Airlines, are attending a joint stand at the fair, which began Wednesday and runs through Sunday. On the first day of the show, U.S. magazine Travel Weekly named Costa Rica the premier travel destination in Latin America.
FITUR is known as one of the most important tourism promotional events in Europe. Costa Rican businesses occupy 49 stands in the fair – a good showing for the country, now bolstered by the presence of the ICT and CANATUR.
After a lean year for tourism in Costa Rica, in which growth plummeted (TT, Jan. 12), officials are eager for new points of contact with tourists worldwide.
Officials are seeking other travel options for tourists from Spain and around Europe who used to fly to Central America via Air Madrid, according to Tourism Minister Carlos Benavides.
Air Madrid grounded all its planes in December of last year, leaving 120,000 passengers stranded (TT, Dec. 22, 2006). San José was the Central American hub for the company.