Costa Rica Convention Center: sustainability in the focus of events

Within the framework of the Seventh Edition of the Sustainable and Social Tourism Summit event held in Mar del Plata, Argentina, Travel2latam spoke with Álvaro Rojas, General Manager of the Costa Rica Convention Center about the development of business and meetings tourism in the country

(Source: Travel2latam)

What is the current situation of the Costa Rica Convention Center in recent months?

As Grupo Heroica we have just concluded our first bidding period, the ICT opened a new tender and Grupo Heroica won a new tender again for 8 years, which opens up a new strategic framework for us to develop very specific topics that come within the same strategic line. that we brought to the Convention Center, topics such as obviously sustainability are our main banner aligned with the country strategy and the image that Costa Rica has maintained, but not from an ethereal concept, but rather we are developing very specific topics in terms of sustainability, For example, next year we hope to be certified Carbon Neutral by the Government of Costa Rica, and we are developing a carbon emissions calculator but not at the event level, but at the venue level from January to December. 

Our intention is that the Government of Costa Rica, through the ICT, can offset the carbon footprint of all the events that take place at the Convention Center annually, through an alliance with a foundation in Costa Rica called FONAFIFO, which is dedicated to offsetting carbon emissions and with this the Costa Rica Convention Center can offset carbon emissions footprints in a responsible, tangible and demonstrable way. 

This is in addition to the National Plan for Sustainable and Healthy Costa Rican Gastronomy, which is along the same lines, where we are developing a series of initiatives; For example, at this moment we have our first artificial intelligence robot in pilot testing where we develop the entire gastronomy part, we have in this robot everything that is seasonal fruits and vegetables given by the Ministry of Agronomy, Agriculture and Livestock of Costa Rica so that the menus that we can create are powered by Artificial Intelligence that will give us many resources. All of this is obviously so that Costa Rica has additional competitive value in terms of sustainability and can continue to attract international events, which is the country's objective.

What goal did you have for this year and how is that goal coming?

All Latin American countries had different reactivation times, Costa Rica opened its events 100% in 2022, which marked last year as a year of recovery and this has been a year of consolidation. We have recovered lost ground in terms of events and visitation. This year, although we have the same number of events as last year, we have a visitation that has already taken place and we project it to be a very important closing of the year. Furthermore, we hope that the Costa Rica Convention Center will be the venue in Costa Rica with a greater share of international events than what is captured by the ICT and the Convention Bureau, which are the international capture lenses.

What are the most important or notable events for Costa Rica?

A very important event for us and one that we really like was Rightscon, the Human Rights Congress that was held in June at the Costa Rica Convention Center, not only because in terms of attendance it was quite good but it hit like a one of the country's objectives. Costa Rica has stood out as a country that defends human rights and is also obviously linked to the entire issue of sustainability of the UN sustainable development goals. So what these types of events do is that they not only bring visitors and attract tourists, but they fit with the country's strategy and make the meetings industry contribute to a much more global issue.

What is the internal operation carried out by the Costa Rica Convention Center and Grupo Heroica regarding the legacy that the events want to leave?

Yes, something we try to do is see legacy as a transversal and conjunctural issue, and not as a unilateral issue. It is not the venue that can generate a legacy, it is not the OPC or the association that can generate a legacy, it is a triangulation and a chain of wills and intentions to generate a tacit legacy. What we try to do is a very specific matter is that all events at the Costa Rica Convention Center and under the Grupo Heroica format in the header of the information that we send to our collaborators to operate is to mention the objective of the event. . That is the first thing we ask the client, we put the statement of what the client wants to achieve and also from the General Management we issue a letter signed the contract to the organizer so that they know that we understand the main objective,

Do you think that your will has helped you boost the marketing of the Convention Center?

I think not so much the marketing of the Convention Center as the Country Positioning. We are a relatively small country and isolated efforts are not so beneficial. For us, the fact that the Convention Center goes out to promote itself in isolation does not generate a profitable reach, but what it does is that it strengthens the country's image and when the country's image is strengthened, obviously there will be a spillover, in some venues they will have competition from us and other international events will arrive. The intention is for the pie to get bigger and bigger and that is where we believe that value is really added to the country's image.

In which issuing markets have they grown the most this year as a result of Costa Rica's connectivity, which has improved in recent times?

In tourism in general, not only the meetings industry that the United States continues to be our main market, we are a country that considers the need of the foreigner, but we are not an economic country, and although this in a certain narrative can play us a little On the contrary, the truth is that it is also in line with our sustainability strategy, since fewer tourists who spend more generate a lower impact on the environment. We believe that the strategy that we have developed for certain types of tourists with a certain socioeconomic level with a quality product is worth it because the market pays for it, and in addition, it helps us maintain the ecosystem and that there really is sustainability over time of the tourist product. that Costa Rica is offering.

Beyond the United States, what other markets are interesting for you to develop?

In the European market, for example, there are airlines such as KLM, Iberia and Air France that are traveling directly to Costa Rica, which is why Europe is becoming more and more interesting for our country. We believe that the experience of having a tourism product oriented towards sustainability for more than 25 years makes the product consistent and is an advantage when deciding to visit our country or not.

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