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Poverty in Guanacaste Alleged To have Dropped 50 Percent

August 14, 2009

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Tourismhas been considered an antidote for many of Costa Rica’s economic problems.

Yet,just how much those Hawaiian shirt-wearing, photo-snapping Gringos (and others)have contributed to local economies is hard to measure.

Forthe regional Guanacaste tourism board, the answer is quite a lot.

GuanacasteChamber of Tourism (CATURGUA) attributes a 50 percent drop in poverty over thecourse of seven yearsand a 16.2 percent increase in household income between2006 and 2008 to the thousands of foreigners who visit the northern Pacificpeninsula each year.

“Clearly,tourism has become a core axis of the economy of Guanacaste and an engine thathas contributed to the improvement of living conditions of the population,” saidAna Saborío, vice president of CATURGUA. “Thanks also to the growth in tourism,migration to the Central Valley also has been reversed. This province has capturedmany professionals from the metropolitan area.”

Accordingto the National Statistics and Census Institute (INEC), the percentage ofhouseholds in extreme poverty in the region of Chorotega in northern Guanacastedropped by 50 percent during the last seven years, from 12.4 percent of thetotal population in 2001 to 6.5 percent in 2008.

INEC’shousehold survey also indicates increased income redistribution and employmentand housing opportunities, according to CATURGUA.

Because26.3 percent of the people living in Guanacaste work for hotels, shopsandrestaurants – all jobs closely linked to tourism – CATURGUA said tourism hasplayed a central role in the economic growth of the region.

“Takingthis statistic alone affirms that tourism is the principal source of income formore that 25 percent of the province, a percentage that is significantly largerwhen you take into account the number of indirect positions tourism generates,which is estimated to be between four and five (per direct position),” Saboríosaid.

Saboríocautioned against taking the economic growth for granted, calling forinfrastructure improvements to roads, aqueducts and wastewater management.

–Tico Times

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