The Ministry of Tourism is lending weight to fresh legislation, which it hopes will radically alter the speed and method by which concessions for marinas will be issued.

Rodrigo Castro, the Minister of Tourism, met with politicians from the Legislative Assembly's Tourism Commission last Thursday to help drive through the new law.

The meeting, which included members of the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (ICT), the Municipality of Santa Cruz and the Comisión Interinstitutional de Marinas y Atracaderos Turísticos, or CIMAT, agreed a draft for the new law, which will now go before a plenary session of the Legislative Assembly.

"We have made advances in what is a very slow process" said Oscar Villalobos Charpentier, CIMAT's Technical Secretary. CIMAT is the government department charged with overseeing all technical aspects of marinas and their construction.

The new legislation seeks to radically simplify the concession process, and because of that, speed the process of approval.

For example, the environmental impact study required of all bidders, will now have to be submitted after the bid has been won. In other words, only one study will be required, saving the unsuccessful bidders tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars.

Instead, bidders will seek an interim Viabilidad Ambiental Potencial (a viability study or VAP).

"With this new law the environmental evaluation would be done after the concession was awarded" Eduardo Madrigal from the National Technical Secretariat of the Ministry of Environment, or SETENA, writes in a report by the Tourism Commission's sub-committee. "This prevents potential concessionaires spending so much time and money, only to lose the bid."

The sub-committee has spent a year researching a draft of the law.
CIMAT will now be able to categorize marinas according to size, location and type, so not all bidders will have to meet the same long list of complicated requirements governing such things as fire and safety equipment, parking, insurance, security, rubbish collection, waste water treatment and communications.

Other requirements may be eliminated entirely.

  • Much of the new legislation has been designed to encourage investment, and stems from a real fear by those familiar with the process that investors will shy away from a complicated and expensive procedure which history shows can take years to bear fruit.
  • The new law expands the length of marina concessions from 20 years to 35 years, to give successful bidders a better chance of recovering their investment. And whereas currently there is no specified minimum concession period, the new law proposes 15 years.
  • The legislation is deemed critical for the concession process for Flamingo's Marina, which was first advertised in September of 2003. Six national and international consortiums say they want the concession to develop and operate a World-class marina in Flamingo, replacing that which was closed in June last year.

"Members of the Municipality of Santa Cruz, including the Mayor, came to the meeting to talk specifically about the problems and obstacles in the process of awarding the concession for the Flamingo Marina," said Rebecca Araya, an advisor to congresswoman, Ligia Zuñiga.

"The idea is to speed up the process by which marinas are awarded, but at the same time, ensure a faster process does not adversely affect the environment," she said.

It is understood the Municipality was vociferous in outlining the negative social and economic impact of Flamingo's marina remaining closed. The delegation got a sympathetic reception from the Minister of Tourism, who is also keen to see action on the Flamingo project.

"It is true Minister Castro wants to expedite this process," said CIMAT's Oscar Villalobos

"What has to be understood is that project of marinas is a very complex process," he warned. The Los Sueños project started in 1993 but not until 1998 did the law of marinas come out and the concession could be awarded. They did not start building until 2000. The first slip was operational in 2001.

"Pez Vela Marina in Quepos has taken almost two years and they are only now signing the concession agreement," he said. "Papagayo has taken a year and a half, and they have complete financial support and everything they need to go ahead."

One hurdle remaining for the new law is the Central Government's pre-occupation with Fiscal Reform legislation.

However, Ms Araya, said the Legislative Assembly was divided into three commissions of 19 members. It was possible for a single commission to approve legislation, a he Ministry of Tourism is lending weight to fresh legislation, which it hopes will radically alter the speed and method by which concessions for marinas will be issued.

Rodrigo Castro, the Minister of Tourism, met with politicians from the Legislative Assembly's Tourism Commission last Thursday to help drive through the new law.

The meeting, which included members of the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (ICT), the Municipality of Santa Cruz and the Comisión Interinstitutional de Marinas y Atracaderos Turísticos, or CIMAT, agreed a draft for the new law, which will now go before a plenary session of the Legislative Assembly.

"We have made advances in what is a very slow process" said Oscar Villalobos Charpentier, CIMAT's Technical Secretary. CIMAT is the government department charged with overseeing all technical aspects of marinas and their construction.

The new legislation seeks to radically simplify the concession process, and because of that, speed the process of approval.

For example, the environmental impact study required of all bidders, will now have to be submitted after the bid has been won. In other words, only one study will be required, saving the unsuccessful bidders tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars.

Instead, bidders will seek an interim Viabilidad Ambiental Potencial (a viability study or VAP).

"With this new law the environmental evaluation would be done after the concession was awarded" Eduardo Madrigal from the National Technical Secretariat of the Ministry of Environment, or SETENA, writes in a report by the Tourism Commission's sub-committee. "This prevents potential concessionaires spending so much time and money, only to lose the bid."

The sub-committee has spent a year researching a draft of the law.
CIMAT will now be able to categorize marinas according to size, location and type, so not all bidders will have to meet the same long list of complicated requirements governing such things as fire and safety equipment, parking, insurance, security, rubbish collection, waste water treatment and communications.

Other requirements may be eliminated entirely.

Much of the new legislation has been designed to encourage investment, and stems from a real fear by those familiar with the process that investors will shy away from a complicated and expensive procedure which history shows can take years to bear fruit.

The new law expands the length of marina concessions from 20 years to 35 years, to give successful bidders a better chance of recovering their investment. And whereas currently there is no specified minimum concession period, the new law proposes 15 years.

The legislation is deemed critical for the concession process for Flamingo's Marina, which was first advertised in September of 2003. Six national and international consortiums say they want the concession to develop and operate a World-class marina in Flamingo, replacing that which was closed in June last year.

"Members of the Municipality of Santa Cruz, including the Mayor, came to the meeting to talk specifically about the problems and obstacles in the process of awarding the concession for the Flamingo Marina," said Rebecca Araya, an advisor to congresswoman, Ligia Zuñiga.

"The idea is to speed up the process by which marinas are awarded, but at the same time, ensure a faster process does not adversely affect the environment," she said.

It is understood the Municipality was vociferous in outlining the negative social and economic impact of Flamingo's marina remaining closed. The delegation got a sympathetic reception from the Minister of Tourism, who is also keen to see action on the Flamingo project.

"It is true Minister Castro wants to expedite this process," said CIMAT's Oscar Villalobos

"What has to be understood is that project of marinas is a very complex process," he warned. The Los Sueños project started in 1993 but not until 1998 did the law of marinas come out and the concession could be awarded. They did not start building until 2000. The first slip was operational in 2001.

"Pez Vela Marina in Quepos has taken almost two years and they are only now signing the concession agreement," he said. "Papagayo has taken a year and a half, and they have complete financial support and everything they need to go ahead."

One hurdle remaining for the new law is the Central Government's pre-occupation with Fiscal Reform legislation.

However, Ms Araya, said the Legislative Assembly was divided into three commissions of 19 members. It was possible for a single commission to approve legislation, and that is what they would aim for. nd that is what they would aim for.

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