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Making Ticos Tourists in Their Own Land

Following a year of contraction in Costa Rica’s tourism industry, Costa Rican officials are hoping a new advertising campaign and a second promotional campaign will tap into Ticos’ inner longing for adventure and travel, by encouraging them to “discover their country.”

The campaign, Aquí se cura todo (Everything’s cured here), will consist of television and radio commercials, and “live” billboards across the country, featuring actors portraying adventure scenes like kayaking and mountain climbing on the billboards themselves.

“We need to consolidate domestic tourism in Costa Rica,” Allan Flores, general director of the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT), said Tuesday during a press conference to launch the campaign.

About 63 percent of Ticos take overnight vacations twice each year and 20 percent go on daytrips, according to an ICT study of more than 2,700 Costa Ricans undertaken at the end of last year.

ICT Marketing Director María Amalia Revelo said only 16 percent of those interviewed do not do either of those activities.

“The study demonstrates that the Costa Rican does travel in his (or her) country and that they do it twice a year on average,” Revelo said.

Revelo added that national travel promotional campaigns such as this are key to boosting business during the present financial downturn.

The Central Bank (BCCR) this week reported that the hotel sector has contracted for the 12th month in a row, showing an 8.7 percent drop in occupancy rates in February of from the same month last year.

The tourism board is investing ¢194 million (about $346,000) in the campaign, which will last until October of this year.

“At this moment, there is a need to give the Costa Rican people a push (towards traveling nationally). This is a positive campaign in a moment of great stress,” said Revelo. “During these times, we think it is more important to have a campaign such as this one. That’s the reason why we’re making this investment.”

Although the ICT does not regulate prices for any tourism services, ICT officials said they are working closely with hotels and companies and encouraging them to offer promotional deals at this time.

One example is “Rediscubra a su país a un precio chiquitico” (“Rediscover your country for a very small price”), another ICT campaign in which Costa Ricans and residents can receive up to a 35 percent discount during the rainy off-season from May through October at various hotels or travel agencies across the country and 20 percent during the peak season from November to April. The ICT is spending close to ¢240 million (about $428,000) to promote this campaign.

Joxan Obando, manager for the Villablanca Hotel, said that the campaign is a good idea to reactivate a sector that has been heavily affected by the global crisis.

“This campaign gives us a new alternative for filling our rooms,” said Obando. The hotel, located in San Ramón, a coffee town northwest of San José, has experienced a 10 percent drop in reservations during the past few months, Obando said.

Besides numerous commercials ICT will be airing in radio and television spots, the campaign will use newspapers ads and advertising on buses around the country, a marketing approach used in U.S. cities such as San Francisco and New York City.

“The campaign is targeted at encouraging Costa Ricans to keep traveling to the places they know and like best, while at the same time pushing them to discover new destinations around the country,” Flores, the ICT general director, said Tuesday.



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