The cruise ship season began on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast last Sunday with the arrival of the Carnival Legend in Puntarenas. At the same time, Tourism Minister Wilhelm von Breymann said his ministry would increase efforts to promote more cruise ship tourism in the country as a way to boost the economy.
“The arrival of this prestigious ship coincides with the start of efforts to guarantee the country’s position as a quality cruise destination,” the minister said.
Among the actions Von Breymann cited the creation of a commission that would work to boost cruise ship tourism so that “it becomes a cornerstone for the country’s economic recovery.” He said officials would work to improve training for tour operators, transportation businesses and artisans, as well as improving infrastructure in Puntarenas.
The Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) announced it would promote an increase in the number of exhibitions and fairs to display crafts, food, folk dancing and other cultural activities to attract cruise tourists and help them spend more time in the province.
The Pacific province currently receives little benefit from cruise ship tourists because most are transported by local tour operators to destinations in other provinces to visit volcanoes and rain forests and to take part in outdoor adventure trips and city tours.
Government officials hope to reverse a trend highlighted by the ICT’s Statistical Yearbook that shows cruise ship arrivals from 2008-2013 have dropped by 30 percent. Officials from the past administration said changes in cruise line routes to reduce costs were to blame for the decrease in arrivals to the country.
Cruise ship tourists are an attractive market for local businesses. A survey conducted by ICT during the 2012-2013 high season indicates that nearly 80 percent of cruise tourists arriving in Puntarenas spent an average of $63 per person, per day. They visit mainly from the United States and Canada, and say they most enjoy local tours, the country’s nature and the attention they received from Ticos.