Costa Rican tourism growth was up 6.6% during January and February,
after dropping 1.6% during 2002, according to new Tourism Minister
Rodr?go Castro, reports The Tico Times (May 5, 2003). Castro blames last
year's dip in tourism -- which he claims was relatively small -- on
external factors following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S.
and subsequent military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq. "In 2003,
we expect tourism to grow, and our goal is to have it grow by
6.6%," he said. According to the Tourism Ministry's
statistics, slightly more than 1.3 million tourists visited Costa Rica last year, 18,047 fewer tourists than in 2001. Tourism is Costa
Rica's number one money maker, accounting for 9% of the Gross
Domestic Product and employing 200,000 people.