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Published on : Thursday, November 28, 2013
According to the most recent index (2011), Costa Rica ranked first in tourism competitiveness in Central America, second overall among Latin American countries and forty-fourth overall in the world ranking. Costa Rica is a Central American Success story on many levels. Of all the countries in Central America, it has the longest standing democracy, boasts the highest literacy rate, and has the highest number of tourist arrivals.
Whereas international tourist arrivals continue to grow, the sector has been slowed by the recent global financial crunch and the flu pandemic of 2009. The TTCI reports that Costa Rica’s key weaknesses in competing for international tourists include: a) time required to start a business, b) poor form of ground infrastructure, c) poor quality of port infrastructure, and d) lack of cultural sites. While tourism operators have restricted power to address the first three issues, they have attacked the last issue of lack of access to Costa Rican culture.
Lacking ancient ruins, industrious Costa Rican tour operators are creating Costa Rican cultural tours based on modern Tico culture.
Some of the sectors having the most success are:
Chocolate Tours: Costa Rica is home to a deep aroma cacao bean, which is the preferred bean for making fine dark chocolate. Many tourists enjoy learning the techniques used in creating one of the worlds favorite sweets, as well as the history and cultural impact the cacao bean has made on the local population.
Coffee Tours: Coffee has long been and continues as an important aspect of the Costa Rican economy. Coffee tours are a mixture of a history lesson, cultural and agricultural tour. The coffee crop has not only contributed to the Costa Rican economy, but also the hacienda culture.
Cooking Classes: There are fine culinary schools in Costa Rica, most of the cooking classes offered to tourists are of the excursion variety. It is another way that tourism operators are diversifying their list of activities to draw more guests.
The focus on food, culture, and tourist participation in culturally important activities, is allowing tour operators to thrive without having the benefit of a ruined civilization as a tourist attraction. Costa Rican tour operators have responded to the demand for more Costa Rican cultural activities.