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Tourism in Costa Rica Affected by Poor Road Conditions

Costa Rica’s Road infrastructure is as bad as it’s ever been. The result of which is a new setback for tourism, economic reactivation and the generation of jobs.

The industry was just biggening to get back to a normal tourism flow, when the effect of heavy rains combined with poor road maintenance, destroyed or severely damaged the country’s roads.

Businessmen in La Fortuna de San Carlos report a 30% drop in hotel occupancy due to this problem.

“This is the second rainy season without road maintenance, it is logical that the movement of tourists – domestic and foreign – has been affected by rains, landslides and road closures,” commented business owners.

For the owners, it is not enough to intervene on the affected routes, but preventive maintenance must be carried out on the roads every year, as the lack of maintenance in recent years has aggravated the situation.

Tadeo Morales, vice president of Arenal Chamber of Tourism and Commerce, explained that the tourism industry is still on the verge of recovery, and the situation has worsened since roads throughout the country have been affected by the inclement weather.

“We are seeing that we are 15% less than the average of what we have had in other years, what colleagues share with me is that some hotels are below 30% occupancy, which is extremely worrying. I think it is part of the fact that tourists are not arriving or are postponing their trip due to the rains or that they are stranded in an area, which forces them to cancel”, added Morales.

These repercussions are shared by the tourism transportation businessmen, fear a decrease in services at the beginning of the high season.

“For the tourism sector it is extremely worrying that people cannot get anywhere. Journeys that would normally take about four hours have doubled in time. We need to have a more encouraging and clearer outlook for the new coming season”, said Leonel Cervantes, president of the Association of Tourist Transporters of Costa Rica (Asotranstur).

Soon, Costa Rica will begin the high season for visitors, a critical period for small business owners and rural communities that depend on this activity to boost the economy and jobs. Nonetheless, the future is uncertain, as more rains are predicted, and the roads are deteriorating. 

President Chaves announced his administration would begin road repair during the summer. Both local and foreign visitors that head to rural areas will have to be extremely patient, as The Ministry of Public Works and Transport must begin road repairs. The government should come up with a coordinated strategy with local officers to alleviate the traffic chaos during those days.

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