The BULL At The Convention Center

Architect rendering of the Costa Rica national convention center

TICO BULL by Rico – In redacting the article Bureaucracy And The New Convention Center I couldn’t wrap my head around the BULL of the Comptroller General (CGR) having their shorts up their crack in approving the tender process to hire an administrator company to run the new convention center.

At the base of the crack is the ownership issue, which, by any logical and common sense standard should not be an issue at all.

Let me explain.

The Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (ICT), after more than a decade of scratching their proverbials is moving ahead to put up the convention center building, a 15,600 square metres (167,000 square feet) structure on land it does not own.

The location is perfect. It fronts on the autopista General Cañas, literally a few minutes (without traffic) from the international airport, in the midst of major hotels and major business centers and home to many international companies, such as HP, Intel, Amazon and Dell, to a name a few.

The land is owned by PIMA – the Integral Program of Agricultural Marketing – the folks than run the CENADA wholesale market for fruits and vegetables.

But the ICT doesn’t actually own the land, just the building that it is spending US$35 million dollars (a whole lot of more zeros if converted in colones). The PIMA has ceded the lands to the ICT.

But does it matter? I wouldn’t think so. Both are government agencies. So, technically, the land and building belong to the people, the State, no matter which government agency runs it, controls it or claims a stake to.

No, oh no, the GCR says it must be proper or nothing.

Am I missing something?

So, while the BULL spreads around government halls, we the people continue to miss out on a very lucrative and very important market – the conventions market.

Major hotels such as the Intercontinental, Marriott, Hilton and Ramada have convention centers, but these are mainly large meeting halls with capacity for hundreds and not thousands.

The ICT has done a great job of selling Costa Rica abroad and pretty sure it will do the same for the convention center.

But the reality is that promoting tourism to a country is not the same a running a convention center in the country.


And that will turn the National Convention Center into a white elephant. There I’ve said it. Unless.

Unless, the ICT is able to come up with a great administrator and then loosen its grip on running the center. The former most likely, the latter I wouldn’t bet the farm on it. With that alone the project doomed to fail.

In fact, it has already failed.

Written by Rico


"In my spare time I'm a really nice guy!" RICO is the crazy mind behind the Q media websites, a series of online magazines where everything is Q! Rico brings his special kind of savvy to online marketing. His websites are engaging, provocative, informative and sometimes off the wall, where you either like or you leave it. The same goes for him, like him or leave him.There is no middle ground. No compromises, only a passion to present reality as he sees it!