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A new directive

San Lucas Island Will Undergo Tourism Development

• National Children’s Hospital, Mixed Institute for Social Aid (IMAS) and the Prison System will benefit.

As of today, Costa Rican families will have the opportunity to appreciate the beauty that surrounds the natural and historical landmarks of San Lucas Island, which will undergo low-impact, sustainable tourism development thanks to a new directive that will allow a small portion of the land belonging to Protected Areas to be used for tourist purposes.

This is made possible through the 5469 law, which handed over the territories to the Puntarenas Municipality, establishing a reasonable and sustainable tourist purpose, and, because of the creation of the Protected Area directive, these areas will not be affected, affecting only the old penitentiary building on the island that has been declared a historical landmark.

The new directive was signed by the president of the Republic, Oscar Arias, and the tourism ministers, Carlos Ricardo Benavides, María Elena Carballo, and the minister of Culture as well as of Environment and Energy, Roberto Dobles.

“This is a new opportunity for nationals as well as foreigners to see this historical site and the natural beauty that surrounds it. The new directive is in compliance with the specific aims of the 5469 law to free up 5.5% of the present land area of the island, which will be developed for tourism and in a sustainable way with low impact and narrow in scope. Conditions will also be created to start restoration, maintenance, and promotion of the old penitentiary installations on the island without damaging the forestry and its biodiversity,” said Carlos Ricardo Benavides, Minister of Tourism.

Benavides added that for many years Costa Ricans have been denied the opportunity to access the island and see the existing historical heritage. “We can finally offer this opportunity and experience that combines the cultural, historical, and natural beauty, with a very important bonus, which is that part of the proceeds generated will go to benefit the National Children’s Hospital, Mixed Institute for Social Aid (IMAS), and the Prison System.

With respect to the type of development that will be undertaken by the Puntarenas Municipality administration and the plans of the Costa Rican Tourism Institute, it is foreseen to strengthen the Playa Cocos sector, a historical center where cultural events can take place as well as encourage small businesses like services and restaurants, in addition to providing a boardwalk.

The Environmental Minister, Roberto Dobles, pointed out that the directive allows the Protected Areas to keep 94.5% of the island’s territory intact and, in turn, to increase the protected area to include the majority of land and water.

“The present directive expands the Wildlife Refuge area to 519 acres more, which includes areas of land and water that make up the islets previously not protected and that have important ecosystems that are linked to the island. Also, part of the proceeds generated from tourism (25%) will go to the conservation and protection of the Refuge,” said Dobles.

The directive also establishes the creation of a permanent commission that will monitor the handling and use of the land. The commission will be made up of the Ministry of the Environment and Energy (MINAE) ministers, ICT, the Ministry of Culture and the mayoress of Puntarenas, who will be the coordinator of the group.

The directive prohibits the storage of fuels and by-products, fishing and hunting, among others established by the commission.

ICT Costa Rica Tourism Board (March 25., 2008) San Jose, Costa Rica