Costa Rica Travel News – Tourism in the north is currently going through a difficult time, judging by the fact that hotel occupancy rates in low season (May to December) are lower than the national average.
The following are monthly occupancy figures as reported by the Costa Rican Hotel Association (CCH).
The situation has been steadily worsening since 2011, when wages were lowered and some employees let go.
Leovigildo Villegas, President of the Association of Tourism for the North (Catuzón), announced that less than 30% of rooms are now filled.
Data released by the CCH confirms the situation. In 2013, some months in particular had very low demand. September, for example, had 28.7% occupancy, compared with the national average of 35.5%.
Again, lower occupancy rates were noted as this year’s low season began, despite having good levels of occupancy during the high season. In March 2014, for example, they hit 79%, where the rest of the company only averaged 72.6%.
Catuzón calculates that in the whole of the northern region, there are some 5,000 bedrooms available – around 4,000 of which are in La Fortuna.
Impact. The hit in the low season is forcing employers to reduce their staff numbers to an absolute minimum. Workers are sent home with no salary because employers are using contracts whose expiry date sets in at the start of the low season, Villegas reports.
The average occupation rate is currently around 30%, dropping to around 20% midweek.
Businesses in the area are managing to return to normal with their bank payments.
The President of the Association of National Tourism, Pablo Abarca, insists that in general, occupation rates are rising very slowly. Since then, he added, the effect is greater in some areas than others. The Association is trying to help with a number of campaigns to attract national tourists.
Luis Zamora, a hotel owner in La Fortuna, commented on how few people they have coming to the area, but also remarked that this how it’s always been and that it’s normal for the low season.
According to restaurant owner, Rodrigo González, across time La Fortuna seems to be immune against difficult situations. This is exemplified by the fact that the Arenal volcano has been inactive since 2011, and yet it still gets plenty of visitors.
Translated by Leah Hendre from La Nacion