Congress to speed up permit process for tourist transport

August 28, 2009

Costa Rica legislators are considering a bill that would make it easier for tour operators to obtain permits for vehicles.

As the law stands now, Luis Alvarado – like dozens of tour agency operators across the country – has to submit documents every 30 days to renew permits to travel on the country´s roads and highways.

“Every 30 days I have to file paperwork for permits. And then I have to do it again for 30 more days, and 30 more days and 30 more days,” said Alvarado, stressing his words to emphasise the nuisance of the process. As a manager with Interviajes Costa Rica Transports Service, which has a fleet of more than five different types of vehicles, he said, “This is something that has affected us a lot.”

The legislation, which is expected to pass after second debate this Wednesday, would extend tourist transport permits for permits for two years and create a new category for tour operators, instead of lumping them with school vehicles and transportation services for workers, as it stands now.

“Tourism is one of the most important activities in Costa Rica,” said congressman Luis Barrantes. “And this mechanism that exists now (for permit renewal) is very bad, very slow and goes counter to tourism.”

Barrantes estimates that 40 percent of people visiting Costa Rica travel with various tour operators.

“To get a permit, right now, is very rigid,” he said. “This law would give more flexibility, while also creating a more just process for those operating tourist transport services.”

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