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20 years

Unemployment, poverty, and water scarcity top problems for Guanacaste

August 18th, 2014 ( Unemployment, poverty, and failing water infrastructure combined with record drought are the top problems facing Costa Rica’s Guanacaste province, Luis Diego Hidalgo, president of the Guanacaste Chamber of Tourism (Caturgua) told the Legislative Assembly’s Committee on Tourism on Thursday.


Hidalgo said the problems have roots going all the way back to the 1990’s.


“We have circumstances that make us vulnerable,” Hidalgo said. “[Guanacaste] has given much to the country but the province hasn’t seen any returns.”


According to a recent report, unemployment in Guanacaste is 2% higher than the national average, while 13% of Guanacaste households live in poverty.


Caturgua representative, Aileen Ocampo, said the situation highlights a lack of public policy for the province, and that the growth of private tourism enterprises in the province have not cured the complex issues facing Guanacaste.


“…We have seen large scale development of hotels that have come to the area, however it is sad to say that our province continues to face complex issues such as unemployment, education, extreme poverty, and malnutrition, which make people ask why no one gives us a hand,” Ocampo said.


Committee members on Thursday pledged to draft a series of policies aimed at improving conditions in the province.


A recent estimate said this year’s record drought has already cost the province at least $38 million losses.  

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  • Yeims

    One facet to this problem I believe has received very little attention, and that is the country’s reputation. While the government here is dreaming up what they consider to be “catchy” words like “essential” (cost $600,000 for them to think up) when in reality tourists coming here have other words, like “ripoff” and “rob”. When an individual, or a business, or a country gets that kind of label associated with it, it is very hard to overcome.

  • mhogan

    Unemployment, water scarcity, poverty … So what? We’re green and that’s what’s important. “Earth over Man” — we got it, be happy people, stop bitching.

  • Ken Morris

    It’s amazing to me that people can continue to believe that tourism is the goose that laid the golden egg, when all you have to do is look at Guanacaste to realize that putting too many eggs in the tourism basket is not a path to economic development. The warning salvo was fired when Guanacaste voted against the free trade treaty, despite it passing in the rest of the country. They know that counting on gringo dollars to save them is unwise, but nobody else seems to notice.

  • Lisa

    The aquifers are drying up due to lack of rain. There was record breaking tourism in Costa Rica in 2013.
    Too many people, too little water.

  • expatin paradise

    Despite everything that the expat community grouses about, Costa Rica enjoys a very positive international reputation as a vacation destination. If tourism is down, it is likely because of other factors, such as competition in the Caribbean and people taking vacations in their home countries. Ken is right, tourism depends on too many external factors. Additionally, tourism may bring in money to a few, but it brings increased traffic congestion, pollution, and demand on resources, all of which are at near-crisis levels. Developers overbuild, contribute nothing to the infrastructure, then demand that the government improve roads and other services. Perhaps an impact fee assessed for every domicile and hotel room should be assessed to pay for these improvements.

    The water shortage is no surprise. We have known that the water supply barely supported previous development. With increasingly more large developments and accompanying lush landscaping, demand has increased considerably. Add an especially dry year to an already stressed system, and you get the present situation. Florida has done the same thing, permitting vast developments despite a scarcity of water that has necessitated water rationing for decades. Developers should not think that they can overbuild for the water supply then bitch until they have a supply diverted from elsewhere using tax money to support their enterprises.

    I don’t know if you’re serious or sarcastic, Mhogan, but CR is anything but green. Do the research on pesticide use per hectare of cultivation. Costa Rica far exceeds every other country on the planet, with threefold the amount used by #2 Colombia. The Agricultural sector is quite literally set on “overkill.” We and the river systems are being poisoned at an alarming rate, with kidney diseases and other “mysterious” illnesses affecting large numbers of people here.

  • Likk Mii

    No. Nobody shows up when you call them to work or they steal your shit while on the premises.” Oh no trabajo hoy, es dia de feria” but they’ll gladly break into a house that day or swipe a laptop.Any time, Any day. Even if it’s their mothers.

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