Nosara, General, Economy

Everything Needs to Change

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Italy’s most famous novel, The Leopard, is about the struggle between mortality and decay: “Everything needs to change, so everything can stay the same.”

Now with steady rain, our wells recharge, businesses close and visitors disappear until sunshine returns in November. The green season of September and October spell massive layoffs at our hotels and restaurants. Business owners fly away for a needed rest from the daily grind and forced smiles of a hospitality industry exhausted by the end August.

The tourist season that began with a bang last November, marking record sales for many businesses over the past ten months saw the Nosara destination brand progress, particularly among surfing and yoga communities in North America. There are more new residences and new businesses opening here than anytime since 2007 and construction has added perhaps more than two hundred new jobs for Nosarians.

But there can be too much of a good thing, a dark side we have all seen in Tamarindo. Too much growth too fast erodes real estate values and quality of life. The seasonality of our tourism leaves hundreds of families without livelihoods during September and October, many without enough food and the other basics of life. Because growth has attracted new workers to Nosara, wages have remained low even as supermarket prices continue to rise.

While climate is what it is, Playas de Nosara as a tourism destination has not collectively addressed its problems, particularly businesses that avoid Costa Rican labor laws. Well-managed, responsible destination management insists on a 12-month employment cycle in the hospitality trades to maintain continuity of service, less employee turn-over, better tico-gringo relations and a profile that is increasingly attractive to visitors who care how both our environment and its people are treated.

All small business is tough, but tourism small business is particularly vulnerable to whim, fashion, weather and publicity. As a business owner with a demanding payroll for more than 25 years, I know first hand management pressures both endless and merciless. But the requirements of long-term viability of operations and asset growth demand a stable economy and fairness and generosity to our workforce to serve a steady stream of customers. Green season promotions are one answer. More efficient uses of energy, water and marketing tools are others.

If we want “everything to remain the same,” as the Prince said in The Leopard, then everything (or at least many things) need to change. Destinations that have gone through cycles of boom and bust know cooperation and collaboration toward sustained prosperity is the one essential and proven ingredient for small business in small communities to succeed into a second and third generation of owners, providing a legacy to their founders. In future blogs, I will write from time-to-time about destination management, a growing need to realize dreams here in Playas de Nosara.