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Guanacaste tourism businesses see post-quake drop in bookings

September 17, 2012

After the magnitude-7.6 earthquake that struck northwestern Costa Rica on Sept. 5, tourism business owners are looking to regain the confidence of tourists, both locally and from abroad.

Reports from the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) state that occupancy rates in hotels are 30-50 percent of what they expected for the season, and cancellations at travel agencies are following a similar trend.

Hotels, restaurants and other businesses on beaches and in coastal towns began to advertise discount deals of up to 50 percent on lodging, as well as other enticements including free meals, tours and scuba and surf lessons.

The ICT posted a list of available offers on its website and via social media.

During mid-year vacations in July, Guanacaste hotels registered the country’s highest occupancy rates for domestic tourism. Southern Guanacaste hotels reported an estimated 78 percent occupancy, and hotels in the north of the province reported 62 percent occupancy rates.

Seismic activity has decreased since the recent earthquake, and while the latest report from the Volcanological and Seismological Observatory of Costa Rica on Monday noted that plates under the Nicoya Peninsula are still moving, the movement produces only minor aftershocks.

Still, more than 2,000 aftershocks have been registered since Sept. 5, including four on Saturday in the province of Cartago, east of San José. The most recent aftershocks ranged in magnitude from 2.4-2.8.

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