Costa Rica to the Rescue

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Save Wall Street Photo
The Costa Rica Tourism Ministry launches the Save the Americans campaign.

While the temperature plunged to an all-time low for this year’s winter season—10℉, not counting the wind chill factor—and the stock market shot up a staggering 323 points on the Dow Jones, our good neighbors from the Costa Rica Tourism Ministry came to New York City to launch their Save the Americans campaign.

The rescue victims are the overworked American worker and the rescue cure is—you guessed it: come relax in Costa Rica.

In the first of several happenings across the United States and Canada and right in the heart of the Financial District, Wall Streeters rushing to work stopped to smile at and take selfies next to a massive, pop-up sand sculpture of a sloth, a monkey, a turtle and a toucan, bearing the message: “Even a Bull needs to be a Sloth sometimes.”

Leading his Save the Americans team was Costa Rica’s minister of tourism Wilhelm von Breymann who—all bundled up in decidedly non-tropical gear— told Recommend that, “Wall Street is synonymous with work; therefore, we decided to launch a unique, original concept that would generate conversations about our country—and it did. We felt that by putting the warmth of Costa Rica in the form of a giant sand sculpture face-to-face with the Bull of Wall Street on the coldest day of the year so far, who wouldn’t stop and think about making good use of their vacation days to visit—or revisit—our country.”

Out of the cold and into a cozy New York coffee house, the minister pointed out that a recent study by Expedia found that over 500 million vacation days in the U.S. go unused, 40 million in Canada. And in looking to save Americans and Canadians—the Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT) was targeting overworked North Americans while positioning Costa Rica as the ideal natural oasis for maximum enjoyment during any vacation time.

According to von Breymann, those overworked North Americans—and even those under less stress—will find that with Costa Rica’s year-round pleasant temperatures, there is always something to do in “our great outdoors. Top-tier golf, fishing, world-class scuba diving, white-water rafting and of course birdwatching are all readily available in different regions. And we have noticed recently that more visitors seem to be booking car rentals, getting out to explore further afield. This is good, because it spreads tourism dollars around the country. ”

The Canopy Honeymoon Suite at Pacuare Lodge, a member of National Geographic's "Unique Lodges" collection.
The Canopy Honeymoon Suite at Pacuare Lodge, a member of National Geographic’s “Unique Lodges” collection.

One area that Costa Rica will be focusing on in new ways is the Osa Peninsula, already attracting visitors to its beaches, mangroves (three kinds in one area), surfing and whale watching attractions; and being discovered by up-scale guests booking into such luxury lodgings as Kura Villas. In this region, “we are tracking a program in the Corcovado National Park, working with the local indigenous settlements to develop Caminos de Corcovado, a network of special walks, with local guides who know their territory best. Such programs are part of our ongoing commitment to sustainability through rural tourism, seeking to strengthen local communities through unique tourism products—gastronomy, crafts, guiding, tourist hotels—that showcase authentic experiences in agriculturally traditional communities,” said Von Breymann.

The minister also pointed out that Costa Rica has close to 500 hotels that have earned a Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST), a program that has served as a role model for many countries around the globe. Two of them with the highest rating (five leafs)—Lapa Rios Eco Lodge, located in the Osa Peninsula, and Pacuare Lodge, nestled in the rainforest overlooking the Pacuare River—are among the 24 hotels worldwide recently named to the National Geographic “Unique Lodges of the World” portfolio.

Of the 2.4 million international arrivals to Costa Rica in 2013, 930,000 of those were from the U.S., the minister noted; he expects those inbound figures to show an increase of 7 to 8 percent when the 2014 figures are finally totaled. Most visitors come from the two U.S. coasts, as well as from those U.S. gateways with direct flights to San Jose and Liberia. Baltimore is the newest gateway, with Southwest inaugurating flight to San Jose on March 7. Southwest is also awaiting approval for direct flights to San Jose from Houston.

Editor’s Tip: Listen up. This will make your day: Go to visitcostarica.com to find right up front savetheamericans.org. Hit the entry box to see the video, starring a singing sloth and his accompanying chorus of wildlife buddies. It’s a real toe-tapping sing-along song, and actually a musical message in perfect pitch to share with any “overworked” clients.

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