Costa Rican tourism businesses can take solace in the fact they were not the only ones slammed by the Great Recession.
According to a report conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), in a survey of 42 countries, tourism fell 12.5 and 6.5 percent during the first two quarters of 2009, respectively, compared to 2008.
The 344-page report, known as the OECD Tourism Trends and Policies 2010, surveyed the 30 OECD member countries, as well as 12 other large market countries, such as Chile, Brazil, India and South Africa. The countries surveyed account for more than 60 percent of world tourism.
When the results were tabulated, it was found that the drops in world tourism in 2009 reversed a 20-year trend of increased international tourists. Over the past 20 years, international tourism has averaged a 4.4 percent growth rate.
Though a final figure cannot yet be attached to the fall in world tourism, author Alain Dupeyras provides recommendations for how countries can make tourism more innovative, competitive and sustainable.
Of the recommendations listed in the report, Dupeyras encourages members of the tourism sector to push for more environmentally sustainable practices, to improve workplace ambiance and labor practices and to stimulate innovation with new forms of image building and marketing.
On these points, Costa Rica could be right on track.
The push for environmental sustainability is a pillar of Costa Rican tourism, as hotels and resorts often tout their efforts to limit their impact on the environment.
Despite these continued environmental efforts, the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) reported that the number of tourists who visited Costa Rica in 2009 fell 8 percent from 2008. In total, more than 166,000 fewer tourists came to the country than in the previous year.
The National Tourism Chamber, expecting a rebound this year, projects a 3-5 percent growth. The United Nations’ World Tourism Organization predicts a 3 to 4 percent growth worldwide.