Post-covid travel: Begin by promoting local tourism, prepare road map with private sector, says Gustavo J Segura, Costa Rican Minister
For an enhanced South-South Cooperation, India is viewing Costa Rica as one of its ideal partners in the region. Both countries share similar views on major international issues including climate change, UN reforms and in combating terrorism. The Central American nation in recent years has emerged as a leader on matters related to environmental protection and climate change. Post COVID-19, as the country opens its door to travellers gradually, the focus is going to be on promoting that country as a natural tourism destination.
According to the Ministry of External website, the Central American nation Costa Rica in July 2006, relaxed its visa regime when it removed India from the Consultada [prior reference] category. This means it allowed visitors from India to enter that country without a visa for a period of 30 days. Then, in August 2007, it further relaxed the visa regime for Indians, when it allowed them to enter with a valid US or Schengen visas.
Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, during his visit to that country, had noted that the Indian film producers could be encouraged to shoot at the picturesque locales in that country which will help in bringing attention to that country.
Gustavo J Segura, Minister of Tourism, in his interaction with Huma Siddiqui, talks about the best practices which his ministry is keen to share with India.
Following are excerpts
How can both India and Costa Rica cooperate in the tourism sector?
Costa Rica has a great deal of experience in ecotourism, both as a tourist activity and sustainable tourism as a global policy. In addition, Costa Rica has developed over the years a very comprehensive community rural tourism network. Both of these initiatives can be shared with India.
What kind of best practices can be shared?
Following our commitment to sustainable tourism, we can share the principles of our Certification of Sustainable Tourism (CST), a world-renowned certification that is headed by the Tourism Ministry and is applied to all tourism activities: hotels, car rentals, restaurants, theme parks, water transport, tour operators, etc.
Another program that India might find beneficial is our Integral Management of Tourism Destinations program. Launched in 2018, the program was designed to strengthen the local management process and create an integrated management system in order to generate the conditions that will improve the competition of tourism attractions within the country.
We can share our process of analysis, diagnosis and evaluation of 32 centres throughout the country, to ultimately improve tourism in these destinations.
Any specific plans for promoting Costa Rica and natural tourism destination?
Costa Rica has joined forces for many years with the top companies of nature and culture productions, including National Geographic. We continue to invite producers from all over the world to film the marvels of nature that Costa Rica has that represent 5% of the world’s biodiversity. We are currently finishing a new investment incentive law that includes benefits for film making of all kinds.
We hope in the future to have productions from India, whose Bollywood industry is world famous.
Post COVID-19 how does Costa Rica plan to open the country to tourist traffic?
We have already opened up the country in a gradual way. We began by promoting local tourism and preparing a road map hand in hand with the private sector, which addressed areas like airlines, cruise ships, economic incentives, small and medium company incentives, etc. We are now implementing that road map. We also designed a set of 16 protocols to ensure the safety of national and international tourists. The protocols outline specific processes and guidelines for tour operators, cruises, airlines, hotels and other tourism companies.