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Tourist Pole Gulf of Papagayo

Located in an area of great natural beauty, the Papagayo project offers tourists, in a space of 2 thousand hectares, 17 diverse beaches with a quiet sea, ideal to enjoy in the company of family; to practice diving and aquatic sports, because the clear water lets you observe the marine beauty hidden in Culebra Bay; or simply rest under the shade of trees of the area and take a walk in a primary forest, with its fauna and endemic species.

A boat trip by its irregular littoral permits visitors to enjoy the beautiful view with different shades given by a series of surprises such as caverns, islands, or the unexpected sighting of dolphins or other marine species such as cat sharks, fish of many colors. and giant turtles.

This bay is rich in marine species of high scientific and economic value due to the plankton rich waters, their main source of nourishment, which reproduces in the area¡¦s mangroves.

For all this impressive diversity of resources and its beautiful geographic landscape is that this project has been planned to be a model of tourist sustainable development to the world.

Javier Bolaños, Architect
Project Executive Director

  • 1965 - Central American Bank for Economic Integration (BCIE) publishes a study for a tourism plan in Central America.

  • 1970 - The process to identify areas with the greatest tourist potential of the Isthmus begins. The Gulf of Papagayo is mentioned as a zone of scenic and cultural richness.

  • 1979 (September) - Tourist Pole Gulf of Papagayo (PTGP) declared of public interest by the Law 6370.

  • 1982 - Issuance of the Law of Development for the PTGP, which establishes:

    • That the State shall create a project of this nature by means of concessions and giving the infrastructure.

    • The ICT is given the authority to create a decentralized executive office with the maximum administrative independence.

  • PTGP's boundaries are established in the Maritime Terrestrial Law from Playa Cabuyal to Playa Hermosa.

  • Between 1991 and 1999, 23 concessions have been granted. 2.000 hectares form the PTGP, a property of the State of Costa Rica, of which 840 belong to the Papagayo Peninsula development (Ecodevelopment Papagayo S.A.).

  • 42.8% of the investment is totally national, 33.3% corresponds to mixed capital of Costa Ricans and foreigners, and only 23.8% is foreign.

Central America¡¦s largest tourist project came about as a dream, which implied several struggles, but is finally come true, and to it, many hopes are attached for a better future for Guanacaste and Costa Rica in general.

In 1974 the firm Tecniberia, hired by the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (BCIE) makes a study to analyze Central America¡¦s tourist potential and determines what came to be the Promotional and Financial Program for Tourism in Central America, whose objective was to adopt a Regional Development Program for the attraction of international tourism of the mass and vacation kind.

General Objective

Within the general objectives of the study is contemplated:

To develop a tourist pole, whose primary aim is the attraction of national and international tourism, maximizing the region¡¦s resources by means of exploring the different points of the circuit and the image, in order to compete in the international market with a sun-beach-sea product, in combination with the ecological attractions, conformed by the volcanoes, parks, reserves and taking into account other tourist projects in the area. The activity will take the shape of a Master Plan of development to guide the physical regulation and a long term plan to determine the facilities for the realization and phases of the possible public and private interventions, trying to achieve the optimum utilization of the lands destined to the Project with the purpose of making of it a model of tourist sustainable development to the world.

Other objectives, goals, and activities

The goals of the project are:

  • PTo promote the economic activity of the region by generating employment and profits and the attainment of revenues for the national economy.

  • To formulate the alternatives for the adequate use of the lands, adequately using the natural and tourist resources, as well as the existing infrastructure.

  • To define and plan the circuit points required to promote a truly wholesome, regional and national development, so that in the modality of controlled project it may be the most important in the country.

  • To coordinate with the different entities the planning and construction of the primary infrastructure works by phases, according to the budgets and regional needs, by means of bilateral agreements or institutional collaborations.

  • To implement the Tourist Development Fund -FONDETUR- stated in Law 6758 to speed up the development of the project¡¦s infrastructure and its complementary works.

The area where the project is located and the Nacascolo Peninsula have a series of attractions deriving from the natural and cultural patrimony of the region.

These attractions can be classified in two groups: those directly associated to the project and the potential ones associated to medium distances.

Among the first are:

  • Scenic views of the gulf and other coasts

  • Diversity of beaches

  • Mangroves

  • Coral reefs

  • Fishing potential of the "casting" and altitude kind

  • Areas with archaeological values

  • Flora and fauna characteristic of the Nicoya peninsula


Among the second could be:

  • Arenal Lake and Volcano

  • Tempisque River

  • Guanacaste and Tempisque Conservation Areas

  • Rincón de la Vieja and Barra Honda National Parks

  • City of Liberia

After the reconditioning made to the former Tomas Guardia airport, where some concession grantees collaborated as well as ICT, Liberia counts with a modern airport, the Daniel Oduber Quirós which for over a year is operating with international tourists.

The access by sea has been facilitated by the new law of marinas, recently approved, that puts at the investors¡¦ disposal the possibility of acquiring concessions for the establishment of marinas, with the Inter Institutional Commission of Tourist Marinas and Wharves, CIMAT, with weekly meetings.

And by land it counts with the Inter American Highway, passing through Liberia, and then taking a detour by a paved road until reaching the project¡¦s area, where there is also a good daily bus service leaving from the capital.

The State is committed to give the infrastructure so that the concession grantee builds his hotel facilities. It could be said that currently this labor is well adjusted to constructions.

Since 1988 and to this date, the ICT has invested in paving jobs, the illumination, electrification, and drilling of wells, the sum of 547 million colones.

These infrastructure works are considered a great priority by the Government and in this sense even the President of the Republic has given instructions to the Minister of Transportation and executive presidents of autonomous institutions to give them priority.

Those dreams of the seventies were perhaps too pretentious for that time and maybe that is why it turned out to be so difficult to achieve the consensus of all of the forces that could contribute to face the challenge. However, the circumstances are now different and very favorable, in virtue of:

  • There is the will of the Government and institutions involved to carry out the project. The country¡¦s tourist development situation is successful, up to the point of becoming the first source of revenue, reason for which investors are showing interest in the project again.

  • Doubts have disappeared, permitting it to go ahead without the worry implied by interruptions and incertitude.

We can only hope that the 20 years delay experienced by the project could be worth waiting. Papagayo is expected to consolidate in an age when it will count with all the favorable factors that finally will allow it to become the project which will place Costa Rica in a privileged position which corresponds to that level for its attractions in the tourist world circuit.

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