Tourism can go way wrong… we can see that right here on the Nicoya Peninsula. Without vision or regulation, tourism can turn Shangri-La into a living hell. Is this inevitable?
Much may be said about Playas de Nosara tourism but one thing that it is not is a managed destination. The global tourism industry is built on a foundation of collaborative marketing based on a constant stream of data: Who visits, from where, at what time of year, in what group size, spending how much money on lodging, food, transport and activities? Destinations collect and analyze data that translates into targeted advertising, packaging, product development and promotions. When they’re good at it, destinations prosper, but then often slowly die from their own popularity, like several of our neighbors to the north. Too much destination management and there goes innovation and creativity. Too little management and we fail to protect our investments and allow our workforce to prosper.
Nosara neither embraces nor denies destination management, but, much like my grandma’s kreplach recipe, survives on word-of-mouth and repeat business. Efforts in Nosara to start a tourism chamber have been for naught. All of this raises the conundrum facing the Playas de Nosara: If we are not a managed tourism destination, What are we?Are we a secret enclave, hoping not to be discovered? Would those businesses that close in September and October prefer to keep their employees working year round? Does our education system provide training for students interested in the hospitality industry? Do we have training programs for those workers employed in the hospitality industry to climb the ladder to management?
The reality is that as Nosara grows so do the challenges to adequately serve our visitors, expat residents and local citizens. Water, waste management and dust only begin to tell the story. Consider also our inadequate medical services and increasing housing, electric and food costs. Can our workers and their families afford to live here anymore?
There are new efforts to help grapple with these and future problems of our growing success. With this blog and an upcoming revised website for the Nosara Civic Association, I will take your pulse, explore these problems, and try to keep you informed.