International airport in the South Zone would take tourism to another level
QCOSTARICA – Whale watching, beautiful beaches and bird watching would make the Brunca Region a “hot spot” for tourism as a result with the construction of an international airport in Osa, as promised by President Rodrigo Chaves.
Clear for takeoff: An international airport in Southern Costa Rica is a priority of the current government
The airport would represent a great opportunity for the tourism sector in the South, which hopes to turn the Brunca Region into a “hot spot” for Costa Rica in terms of attracting visitors.
It is an infrastructure project that has been brewing since 2004 but has not been able to take off due to excessive bureaucracy and even environmental opposition.
However, with the current government, the dream of exploiting natural beauties on a larger scale and generating more wealth and jobs in the South Pacific is beginning to become a reality.
Today, a car trip to Corcovado National Park lasts more than seven hours, according to the Waze application, while it takes six hours to Drake Bay, so establishing a direct connection with international flights would allow the transfer of foreigners directly without endangering them due to the poor state of the roads.
In recent days, the government of Rodrigo Chaves ordered archaeological feasibility studies in the area, with the aim of developing the project.
It is a first step that fills the region with hope and in the medium term, the possibility of making the leap, as other places such as the North Zone or Guanacaste did at the time.
“Of course, the construction of an airport in the South Pacific area is great news for the tourism sector, there is no doubt that bringing visitors by air from our main markets will translate into great benefits for the communities,” said William Rodríguez, Minister of Tourism.
In this sense, Rodríguez asserted that businessmen in the area must work on the construction of tourism projects, to begin to generate the demand for visitors that an airport requires.
The natural attractions are only part of the area’s offer and business owners must have the tourist declaration, to carry out promotional and marketing activities in the canton.
“The construction of an airport in the South Zone is welcome, but we are clear that we must first work on the construction and placing on the market of the tourist products that we are going to offer to this area, we must work on the construction of the tourist product from the Brunca Region and put it on the market, according to the normal channels, because it is not the ICT that puts the product on sale, but the businessmen,” Rodríguez added.
Archaeological sites, such as the Ballena Marine National Park, the Térraba-Sierpe Wetland, Caño Island and Corcovado, part of Costa Rica’s extensive network of nature preserves, are some of the natural beauties that would encourage bird watching, whale watching, visits to the beaches and exploration of the tropical jungle.
The first step towards the feasibility of building the airport in that area is an archaeological study, carried out by the National Museum since it is estimated that pre-Columbian pieces would be found.
“The archaeological feasibility study is estimated to take 12 months, to then carry out the extraction of the findings, which would last a period of six months. Both processes will be carried out by the National Museum,” said Fernando Naranjo, general director of the Dirección General de Aviación Civil (DGAC) – Civil Aviation.
If the feasibility of the project is approved, the construction would be carried out by a private company or consortium, through a bidding process.
The expectation is an airport that boosts tourism in the Brunca region and facilitates international trade, according to the head of Civil Aviation.
“A sustainable air terminal is expected, which preserves the heritage of the geographical area and which is a source of employment, connectivity and sustainable economic development,” explained Naranjo.
The project is expected to have a terminal, platform, taxiway and the respective services for big aircraft such as the Airbus A319/320/321 family, B737 Family, executive and other medium-range aircraft.
Plans and dreams
The Aeropuerto Internacional de la Región Brunca (AIRB) – Brunca Region International Airport – was included in the National Development and Public Investment Plan 2023-2026. The estimated investment would be more than ¢ billion colones ($1.8 million US dollars).
2026 – 20% with the pre-execution of the work
2025 – 15% with designs and financing
2024 – 7% with feasibility
2023 – 3% with the profile and pre-feasibility