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Tourists at beaches will continue without public bathrooms
• Constitutional Court indicated that municipalities should satisfy needs
• Ministry of Decentralization argues that there isn’t space for construction along maritime shoreline

By Oliver Pérez

The beaches of Guanacaste that tend to receive thousands of visitors at the end and beginning of the year don’t have sanitary toilets or public bathrooms. The municipalities of the cantons that have coastline such as Carillo, Nicoya, Nandayure and Hojancha have not resolved this lack of infrastructure.

There it is common to find excursionists looking for sites to take care of their needs and in many cases the only option open to visitors is to look for a restaurant and buy at least a drink to have the right to use the restrooms.
Photo by Rolf Sommer

The beaches of this zone offer many attractions to tourists such as proximity, warm waters, mountains, scenic beauty and adventure tours. However, the municipalities of these cantons recognize that the lack of bathrooms and toilets is a flaw.

The Constitutional Court, in sentence 00519-97 of January 1997, indicated that “It is duty of the public entities in charge of regulation to equip these public places with the minimum facilities to satisfy personal needs as an alternative of the regulatory measures.”

The mayor elect of Nicoya, Marco Antonio Jiménez, admitted that the vacationers that visit the beaches of the canton don’t find such toilets. Jimenez acknowledged that the lack of these installations has been dragged out for a long time, but he assured that during his administration, which begins February 7th, he will look for a solution soon.

On the other hand, the Minister of Decentralization Juan Rafael Marin, who was mayor of Hojancha for 8 years, admitted that this theme always has been a problem for tourists and for the Municipality.

According to Marin, the main limitation that the town council faces is that they can’t build in the maritime land zone because it is currently occupied by local businesses and private residences.

“They are working to recover the 150 meters of shore that is in private hands; they’re in this struggle. Designs for how the public bathrooms will be were left in process with the Chamber of Tourism, but at this time there’s no possibility to build them until there is space for this end,” declared the official.

In the case of the beaches of Guions, Pelada and Ostional, which are administered by the Tempisque Area of Conservation, of the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Telecommunications (Minaet), the regional head in Nicoya, Gerardo Martinez, was consulted and said that although the beaches are administered by Minaet, it is the municipality’s obligation to put the bathrooms in place.

“You’d have to see what is being contemplated in this case, but as the municipalities are in charge of administering the maritime land zone, the case would have to be analyzed,” said the official.

According to Minister of Health Maria Luisa Avila, this entity doesn’t obligate the municipalities to place bathrooms or toilets in the beaches. However, it should be an initiative of the town halls or that the organized community requests it.


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