Costa Rica has confirmed that it will invest $4.5 million over the next three years to enhance tourism facilities and infrastructure within the country’s treasured National Parks system.
This investment aims to improve visitor experiences and promote sustainable tourism practices. The funding will be used to develop new trails, upgrade visitor centers, and implement conservation initiatives to protect the unique biodiversity of Costa Rican national parks.
According to the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC), the funds will be used in Manuel Antonio, Tenorio Volcano, Guayabo National Monument, Carara, Arenal Volcano, Irazu in the Prusia sector, and Los Quetzales National Parks.
The parks were selected based on high visitor numbers throughout the year. These parks attract a large number of visitors due to their stunning natural beauty and diverse ecosystems.
By investing in these priority upgrades, Costa Rica aims to enhance the visitor experience while also ensuring the long-term preservation of its rich biodiversity.
“We are talking about an investment of $1.5 million per year; the agreement was signed for three years and could be extended for three more years, which would extend us until 2028,” said SINAC public investment coordinator Karla Vázquez.
For 2023, the main focus will be on Manuel Antonio, Volcán Tenorio, and Guayabo National Monuments, where National Parks Day celebrations will occur on August 24th. An additional 400 million colones from the Costa Rican Institute of Sports (INDER) will go towards urgent infrastructure repairs in Manuel Antonio to address concerns about park management.
According to the Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT), well-maintained national parks are crucial for attracting international visitors and enhancing the country’s tourism product.
“The protection of these areas has made it possible for our tourism product to be highly positioned thanks to a country’s decision to protect the natural resource and allow responsible tourism use, in harmony with the protection within the National Parks,” noted ICT General Manager Alberto López. “That is why we have signed an agreement to invest resources in national parks, because we understand that in them lies a significant part of Costa Rica’s tourism product.”
While welcomed, the announcement comes after years of complaints from park visitors that entrance fees were not being sufficiently reinvested. SINAC reported 2.4 million visitors during 2022, generating over 12 billion colones in ticket revenues.
However, under fiscal policy, these funds go to the state budget rather than directly back into park maintenance. SINAC must then request annual budget allocations to distribute across all protected areas.
Conservationists hope the new targeted funding will lead to noticeable improvements, but stress that long-term solutions are still needed for sustainable financing and infrastructure maintenance across Costa Rica’s extensive park system. Striking the optimal balance between tourist access and environmental protection remains an ever-present challenge.
Fernandez, I. (2023, August 25). Costa Rica Upgrades Tourism Infrastructure Across 7 Key National Parks. The Tico Times | Costa Rica News | Travel | Real Estate. https://ticotimes.net/2023/08/25/costa-rica-upgrades-tourism-infrastructure-across-7-key-national-parks