Convention Centre A High Priority For Costa Rica's Next Tourism Minister PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 17:34

Carlos Ricardo Benavides, the Ministro de Turismo appointed in the next government has outlined an ambitious plan to build a Centro Nacional de Convenciones (National Convention Centre).

Benavides explained that during the Chinchilla administration the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (ICT) will develop the infrastructure for the project on an empty lot near the Plaza Real Cariari in Belén, Heredia.

The convention centre will be an important tool to promote Costa Rica as a country to hold seminars, fairs, meetings and for large groups and the convention centre will be important for hotels to fill their rooms during low occupancy cycles.

The tourism minister said that the current government had hoped to attract private business to develop the project, but due to the economic crisis it never materialized.

Benavides assures that today the priorities of the government are different and it is important to develop such a project and not wait for the private sector.

The project will be highly visible as it will be built fronting the autopista General Cañas, the main highway into and out of San José.

Although the details of the plan, especially how the project will be financed were not explained, though Benavides suggested that us$15 tourist tax, a tax applied to every airline ticket to Costa Rica, may be a main source of financing.

The tax that was implemented last June has brought so far us$18 million to government coffers.

The 10 hectare parcel of land where the convention centre will be built is currently owned by the Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería (MAG).

Participating on the project will also be the Cámara Nacional de Turismo (Canatur), the Asociación Costarricense de Profesionales en Turismo (Acoprot) and the Cámara Costarricense de Hoteles (CCH).

"We want the plan to include the vision and business confidence and that the Centre is functional for them", said Benavides.

Last week Benavides also said that promoting medical tourism in Costa Rica will be another priority fo the Chinchilla administration.

In an interview with La Nacion last Friday, Benavides said medical tourism is a "high growth potential" for the country.

Benavides was tourism minister between 2006 and 2009.