General Framework 

Institutional Overview

ICT Regional Offices


History and institutional legal framework

The state's participation in tourism development begins on the year of 1930, with the creation of the first private hotel called "Gran Hotel Costa Rica", as a first class hotel; it was built with the private sector's support, and promoted by the Government of the Republic. Tourists tended to come from overseas, entering the country via the Port of Limón, where they commuted to San José by train on the railroad owned by the "Northern Railway Company".

In 1931, the first normative regulating tourism activity is decreed, by means of Law 91, of June 16, 1931, when the "National Tourism Board" is created, which operated until August 9 of 1955, date when the entity we now know as "Instituto Costarricense de Turismo", was created by Law 1917.

Organizational Structure


Currently this institution has an ongoing process of organizational change, searching to reinforce the processes performed up to date by the institution; but more importantly, it is carrying out a series of proposals on new functions and processes that the institute should undertake in order to make Costa Rican Tourism industry more competitive, so that it keeps its share of the international market.

The main changes center around: strengthening of the processes of formulation and implementation of planning for tourism development, attraction and assessment of investors, development of quality and competitiveness systems, development of marketing in an integral way, tourist attention, generation of information for decision-making, reinforcement of processes for improving administration (comptrollership services, income, administrative analysis, among others.


The institutional vision is:

"To be the leading and rector institution for the country's tourism activity"


ICT's mission, according to the National Development Plan has been proposed in the following terms

Promote a wholesome tourism development, with the purpose of improving Costa Ricans' quality of life, by maintaining a balance between the economic and social boundaries, environmental protection, culture, and facilities.

Institutional policies

General policies include the general, non-negotiable dispositions guiding national tourism development and ICT's actions for future projections, during the period of 2002-2012, that have been already discussed. They have long-term implications and should be considered mandatory for the national tourism industry.

1. The concept of sustainability will be the fundamental axis of tourism activity and will be considered as the main factor characterizing the national tourism product.

2. Tourism development will develop in such way as to contribute effectively and constructively against any form of social degradation, generating economic benefits, protecting the environment, and supporting our people's culture and values..

3. Any kind of tourism activity that threatens our people's habits or puts at risk the physical and moral integrity of human beings will be fought against forcefully.

4. Development of tourism activity will foster Costa Rican families' well-being, the improvement of tourism bases, and the development of new products in all of the country's planning units.

5. Tourism activity that is based on ethics, quality, and sustainability will be favored. Any benefits or incentives given by the country for development will be bound to a controlled compliance to these factors of tourism industry.

6. Private, national, and foreign investment of new projects as well as improvement and enlargement of existing ones will have a parallel commitment with local development.

7. Small and medium-size companies of high quality will be supported, as a strategy for the incorporation of communities in that sector of the economy.

8. All of the international and national promotion will be done according to specific plans that have been designed keeping in mind the private sector's and related communities' proposals, responding to a vision and the country's tourism goals at large.

9. Tourism development will be guided based on programs and objectives, and for that reason, it will strictly establish a coordination plan, control, and follow-up of all its activities.

Click here to see the Organizational chart of the Costa Rica Tourism Board.

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