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Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Overtourism In Costa Rica: A Possibility or Not?

It was a Saturday of April 2022, and Costa Rica was celebrating Semana Santa (Holy Week). The Holy Week was to begin on that day. I got on a 6.30 am bus to Monteverde, and though the bus usually takes 3.5-4 hours to reach Monteverde, it took me 9 hours that day.

Yes, you read it right. 9 hours!

Why? Because there were too many vehicles on the road. Our bus moved 1 meter every 10 minutes or so. We stopped for our first and only break after 7 hours.

Semana Santa or Holy Week is one of the most important times for the native Costa Ricans, and the deep-rooted traditions come alive. The death and resurrection of Christ are celebrated with processions all across the country, and the entire country shuts down for about a week.

Expatriates living and working in Costa Rica see this time as a great opportunity to visit and explore places. This is also a time when tourists from Europe, Canada, and the US are visiting Costa Rica, as they have an Easter break at work.

So, what do you expect to happen at this time?

Overtourism!

The term ‘Overtourism’ was inserted in the Oxford dictionary in the year 2018 and it means – An excessive number of tourist visits to a popular destination or attraction, resulting in damage to the local environment and historical sites and in poorer quality of life for residents.

Let me share another experience from the same week as an example of overtourism.

I went to La Fortuna from Monteverde on Tuesday. And though that journey was smooth, I soon arrived in a town that was bustling with tourists. So much so that there were no cabs available. Tour shuttles were offering passengers rides across the town for 10$. All tour operators we happened to call were booked till the weekend.

And when we went to Baldi Hot Springs Resort having the ulterior motive of relaxation in mind, we were welcomed by a very long queue of tourists waiting to get inside. I could already imagine what it would be like inside the resort.

We, of course, turned back and left!

Is that how tourism should be? Is that something we, as tourists, would like and enjoy?

NO!

So, how can Costa Rica, as a country, manage overtourism? Countries such as Iceland & Thailand, and a few cities like Ibiza, Barcelona & Venice are already taking measures.

And, how can we, as tourists, avoid contributing to overtourism? Stay tuned to my next articles on some possible solutions to combat overtourism!

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