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Monday, May 20, 2024

Surfing Solidarity: Costa Rica’s Movement Against Illegal Instructing

Surf instructors from various Costa Rican beaches have joined forces to advocate for the employment rights of local instructors, amid concerns over foreigners with irregular migratory status offering surf lessons without complying with Costa Rican labor laws.

The movement, known as Surfistas Locales CR, is a non-political and non-religious civil society initiative dedicated to fighting for the employment rights of hundreds of Costa Rican surf instructors. Comprising Costa Ricans, residents, and naturalized citizens who adhere to all legal requirements for employment, the movement aims to promote decent work that contributes to the country’s development through compliance with social security and tax regulations.

Representatives from popular coastal communities such as Tamarindo, Negra, Hermosa, Avellanas, Guiones, Nosara, Santa Teresa, Jacó, Dominical, Dominicalito, and Pavones have come together under this initiative. The group of 87 instructors has launched a vigorous campaign to expose and address the issue of foreigners engaging in unauthorized surf instruction.

The movement was sparked by a group of instructors primarily from Playa Tamarindo in Santa Cruz (Guanacaste), who lodged complaints with the Ministry of Labor and Social Security (MTSS), the local Municipality, and the General Directorate of Immigration and Foreigners (DGME). They highlighted the employment of undocumented foreigners as surf instructors, jeopardizing the livelihoods of legal instructors and violating labor and migration regulations.

In recent months, an influx of foreigners entering the country on tourist visas and subsequently working as surf instructors after the visa expiry period has been observed in Playa Tamarindo. These individuals lack authorization from the MTSS and are in irregular migratory status, further exacerbating the issue.

The unfair competition posed by illegal foreign instructors has led established surf schools, complying with all legal requirements, to form a national alliance. This alliance includes nearly 90 representatives from coastal communities where surfing is a major attraction, providing employment opportunities in tourism, transportation, hospitality, and retail sectors.

The presence of illegal foreign instructors has led to a significant decrease in surf lesson prices, with rates dropping by over 50 percent. While a standard two-hour lesson typically costs between $70 and $80 USD, unauthorized instructors offer lessons at reduced rates of $30 to $40 USD, undermining the livelihoods of legal instructors and impacting the local economy.

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