The City of Bagaces will administer the Llanos de Cortes waterfall starting in November this year with the intention of improving the tourist site’s security and economic potential, president of Bagaces City Council Karla Vincenzi told The Voice of Guanacaste.
Until now, a group of Llanos de Cortes residents has been in charge of the waterfall and has requested a voluntary contribution from visitors.
One of the first changes that City of Bagaces will make will be establishing a mandatory fee for visitors who wish to enjoy the waterfall, one of the most famed and easily accessible in Guanacaste. They also proposed hiring security guards and lifeguards.
The City Budget Coordinator Daniel Gonzalez said they are evaluating a charge of $1.78 for national visitors and $3.57 for foreigners. A second option would be charging double those amounts.
The city estimates that around 80,000 people visit the Llanos de Cortes waterfall every year, which has helped them collect enough funds to develop a tourist complex around the waterfall. Construction will start in 2019.
The project is estimated to cost $893,000 and has already been designed by architect Luana Sanchez from Costa Rica’s Technological Institute.
The project will include facilities that currently do not exist there: more restrooms, a restaurant, stairs, etc.
The design includes a parking lot, bus stop, bathrooms, picnic area, an amphitheater, restaurant, a small doctor’s office and a souvenir shop. The complex will be built where the current parking lot is, adjacent to the waterfall.
The project includes plans to extend an existing ramp connecting the complex with the waterfall.
“Since the ramp is on pylons the terrain doesn’t need to be modified and the existing trees are respected,” the architect said.
Aside from visitor revenue, the project’s commission also proposes using funds from the Daniel Oduber airport tax to build the complex.
“There is a potential for tourism at Llanos de Cortes that isn’t being taken advantage of. We want this to be a maiden project that serves as an example for other initiatives,” said Jeanine Atencio, Bagaces Director of Project Management.
And the Community?
Llanos de Cortes residents uses voluntary donations from tourists for community projects such as equipping the school cafeteria.
Despite the fact that the residents will lose direct control of the waterfall, the community is satisfied with the city’s project.
“The city is doing the right thing; this is how we want to work,” said Rosa Ruiz, one of the community leaders.
In a meeting on August 22, city officials assured residents that a portion of the profits from the waterfall would be used for the community, although the percentage has yet to be defined. The formal approval for the project from Bagaces City Council, the body that makes decisions regarding investments, is still pending.