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These stories first were published Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2001
About 8,800 air tourists didn't come to Costa Rica
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica lost about 8,800 airline tourists in September because of the terrorist attacks in the United States. 

Figures from the Costa Rican Tourism Institute show that 38,894 tourists arrived by air in the country that month. For five September days the bulk of the airlines in the Western Hemisphere were grounded for fear of terrorism. 

Based on an estimate that tourism was running about 9 percent ahead of the year earlier, September without terrorism attacks would have generated about 47,700 tourists. When compared to actual tourists, 43,777, from the year earlier, tourism was down just 11.2 percent or 4,883 persons.

Declines were across the board and involved tourists who arrived by airline from North America, Central America, South America, Asia and Africa.

Canada was down 210 tourists in the month from the year before. Some 971 tourists arrived compared to 1,181 the year before.

The biggest decline came from tourists from the United States. 13,663 arrived in September, 2,859 fewer than a year ago. That was a 17.3 percent decline when compared to the 2000 figures. 

The only countries who sent more tourists this September than last September and their percentage of increase were Brazil (2.6 percent), Colombia (15.6), Austria (6.4), Finland (39.3), France (9.0), Korea (22.2), Israel (76.2) and Russia (38.5), according to the institute. Only Europe showed a net increase in the number of September air tourists when compared with the previous year. Only Asia as a region showed an increase, up some 11.5 percent over the year before.

About 75 percent of Costa Ricaís tourists arrive by air, and all tourism, air and land, showed an 8.8 percent increase in the first six months of 2001 when compared to the same months a year earlier. Total tourists were 609,830, an increase of 49,200, according to tourism board figures.

The tourism number, provided by Immigration is one of several statistics being used by the Costa Rican government crisis commission. President Miguel Angel Rodríguez created that group on the heels of the Sept. 11 attacks in New York and Washington. 

In addition, the tourism watchdogs will be using survey techniques to get reports from tourism businesses.

Other numbers also are being watched, said the tourism institute. These include occupancy rates of hotels, the international balance of payments, employment rates and production reports.

On an optimistic note, the tourism officials noted that September, October and November are weak months for tourists coming here from the United States and Canada. In the year 2000 only 66,302 or 17.6 percent of the annual total came during those months. So a decline in September numbers does not have the same impact as a decline in high-season months.

Air tourism compared for Septembers
Area
2000
2001
difference
percent
Canada
1,181
971
-210
-17.8%
U.S.
16,522
13,663
-2,859
-17.3%
Mexico
2,540
2,387
-153
-6.0%
All North America
20,243
17,021
-4,883
-11.2%
Central
America
5,903
4,928
-975
-16.5%
Caribe
707
569
-138
-19.5%
South
America
6,829
6,536
-293
-4.3%
Europe
8,285
7,875
-410
-4.9%
Asia
1,351
1,506
155
+11.5%
Africa
43
38
-5
-11.6%
Other
places
416
421
5
1.2%
TOTAL
43,777
38,894
-4,883
-11.2%


Campaign to boost
tourism part ads
and part PR

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Costa Rican campaign to boost its tourists has been under way for about three weeks.

Shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorism attacks, the Costa Rican government authorized $1.5 million to promote its vital tourism industry.

Porter Novelli International with local offices in Barrio Escalante got the job. This is a communications and marketing firm with offices around the world.

A spokesman for the firm said Tuesday that both advertising and public relations techniques are being used. About 50 percent of the budget is allocated for promotional efforts in the United States. The other 50 percent is earmarked for Central America and for internal campaigns in Costa Rica.

Modern marketing techniques generally dictate a campaign of paid advertising and public relations techniques, such as, in this case, personal visits to newspaper travel editors and travel agents.

Among those so occupied is Walter Niehaus, minister of tourism, who left last week for the United States to conduct interviews with communications outlets there and with tourist wholesalers, according to the institute.
 
New computer virus alert

These another computer virus making the rounds again here in Costa Rica,and those with PC-type computers should be on guard.

SEE BELOW


 
CIMA plans seminar as overseas anthrax alert issued
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff 
and A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Hospital CIMA plans a seminar about bioterrorism Thursday night for the North American community.

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department says it is "deeply concerned" about the security of Americans overseas, and it has issued a new worldwide terrorist alert that warns of possible anthrax attacks. 

A  spokesman for the hospital, which is in Escazú adjacent to PriceSmart, said that the seminar will be given by Dr, Hugo Villegas, an internist who is the chief of the hospitalís emergency facilities.

"We are aware of your concern about anthrax and other virus and we will be very pleased to keep you informed and to solve your questions about it." said Claudia Vaca Garcia of the hospitalís administrative staff. She said those who want to attend the 7:30 p.m. session should contact her at 208-1295. 

The alert from the U.S. State Department came late in the afternoon and did not cause the hospital to plan the seminar. That already was under way.

The State Department said U.S. citizens and interests overseas face an increased risk of terrorist attacks, including attacks by groups linked to Osama bin Laden's Afghanistan-based al-Qaida network

The warning says the risk of anthrax attacks overseas cannot be excluded, even though that risk is limited. The statement says there is unconfirmed information that terrorist actions may be taken against U.S. military personnel in South Korea and Japan. 

The new warning updates one issued earlier this month after the United States began bombing targets in Afghanistan, in response to the Sept.11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

The U.S. has been warning for months that military personnel in Asia might be in jeopardy. But this is the first time that the State Department warned that anthrax might be a danger overseas.

So far, despite a few false alarms, no anthrax has been found in letters or packages in Costa Rica. Although tests were being run on a magazine late Tuesday. 

In other places, Brazil is denying that anthrax was found in a suspicious letter there.

Meanwhile in the U.S. anthrax concerns are at their highest ever after two more U.S. Postal Service 

workers died, presumably from handling anthrax-laced letters that were sent to U.S. officials.

Traces of Anthrax were found at a remote White House mailing center, according to A.M. Costa Rica wire services.

The White House says a very small amount of anthrax has been found on a machine at a Washington area military facility where all White House mail is screened.

Spokesman Ari Fleischer says the unidentified site several kilometers from the White House has been closed, and that all employees there are being tested for possible anthrax exposure. Fleischer said he is confident anthrax has not made it through to the White House. He says all tests at the complex surrounding the executive mansion have come up negative.

President Bush says there is no question, "that evil doers are continuing to try to harm America." He says the White House is safe and he will keep working there. He also stressed that he does not have anthrax. President Bush said he will devote $175 million to quickly upgrade security at post offices across the United States.

In other developments Tuesday, tests confirmed inhalation anthrax killed the two Washington postal employees who worked at the capital city's mail processing facility. Two more Washington postal workers are being treated after being diagnosed with inhalation anthrax, and at least two of their colleagues are suffering from symptoms consistent with inhalation anthrax. 

They are all being treated with antibiotics. Meanwhile, preliminary tests show a New Jersey postal worker also has contracted inhalation anthrax. The U.S. Postal Service has offered antibiotics to 7,000 employees of six postal offices in New York City as a precautionary measure. Also in New York City, the New York Times has closed down its mailroom after a letter containing a white powdery substance was opened.

U.S. officials say investigators can neither confirm nor rule out that the anthrax bioterrorism is linked to those behind the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States. President Bush says he would not be surprised if the al-Qaida terrorist network is involved.

A Florida tabloid photo editor has also died of inhalation anthrax, the most deadly form of the disease, since the anthrax mail attacks began in recent weeks. The skin form of anthrax, which has been contracted by several people in the New York City area, is highly treatable. 

Older but effective computer virus on the loose again via RACSA
By the A.M. costa Rica staff

The Win32SirCam computer virus attacked a computer via a message downloaded from the RACSA server Tuesday morning.

This is the kind of computer worm that checks out the address book or Web files of an infected computer and sends copies of itself to the Internet addresses on the lists.

The unlucky recipient is Carol Calkins, a computer professional who runs Blue Moon Web Productions in La Fortuna. She said the virus made her computer "virtually non-functional," and she used another computer to send a warning to those who might get the virus message.

She said she was particularly upset because the Norton anti-virus detection programs on her computer did not intercept the message.

Ms. Calkins said that the virus came in the guise of a message from someone seeking help with a computer problem. She said the name looked vaguely familiar, but she still did not open the accompanying attachment that she later realized contained the virus.

Instead she sent a return e-mail to the alleged sender, thereby triggering the virus in the original message, she said.

"Dumb, dumb, double-dumb. I didn't open the attachment, but I stupidly replied to the message saying that I needed to know who it was from before I opened it.

Computer Associates, a software maker, maintains a virus Information Center. Ms Calkins said that by checking there she determined that the virus probably was the Win32.SirCam.137216.
 

The information center said that the virus is biligual and describes it thusly:

"Win32.SirCam.137216 is an e-mail worm which sends itself as well as clean documents from an infected machine. The worm arrives in a message which may be either English or Spanish. The English messages appear like this: 

   Hi! How are you? 
   I send you this file in order to have your advice
   See you later. Thanks 

The middle line may be chosen at random from one of the following: 

   I send you this file in order to have your advice
   I hope you can help me with this file that I send 
   I hope you like the file that I send to you 
   This is the file with the information that you ask for 

The Spanish message looks like: 

   Hola como estas ? 
   Te mando este archivo para que me des tu punto de vista 
   Nos vemos pronto, gracias. 

The middle line may be one of the following: 

   Te mando este archivo para que me des tu punto de vista 
   Espero me puedas ayudar con el archivo que te mando 
   Espero te guste este archivo que te mando 
   Este es el archivo con la información que me pediste 

The Radiográfica Costarricense, S.A., (RACSA) server probably was not the source of the message. Most e-mail messages in Costa Rica pass through the servers of the government Internet monopoly. 


 
Human rights vital in Central America, UN secretary-general says
By A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said protecting human rights and eradicating poverty in Central America is essential for building peace and democracy in the region. 

In a report Tuesday to the U.N. General Assembly, Annan said armed conflict and consistent human rights violations have ended in Central America. But he says the region still must overcome the poverty and structural differences that led to the conflicts. The U.N. chief commended the civilian-led police in El Salvador and Guatemala, calling the units a significant step forward to phase the armed forces out of public security functions. 

The secretary-general warned that any continued involvement of the military in public security could lead to the violence that escalated to war in the past. 

Annan also called on regional governments to implement electoral reforms to make the process legitimate and non-partisan. The report praises the creation of national ombudsmen throughout the region, saying they can protect human rights and ensure that states provide appropriate services and protection for their citizens. 

Annan called on all Central American nations to provide resources to ombudsmen and encourage their watchdog role. The secretary-general warns the continued involvement by the military in public security could lead to the violence that escalated to war in the past. 

Colombia issues arrest warrants

The Colombian government has issued arrest warrants for the top leadership of the country's largest guerrilla group on charges of murder. 

Manuel Marulanda, long-time leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), and his top officers are accused of masterminding the killing of a former cabinet minister last month. The body of Consuelo Araujo was found in northern Colombia riddled with bullets Sept. 30, a week after she was kidnapped. 

She was also the wife of Colombian Attorney General Edgardo Maya. 

It's not clear how the arrest warrants can be served, however, since the government is engaged in peace talks with the rebel group.


 

Conference

in Belize

is warmup 

for world

ecotourism

discussion

Those involved in Central American ecotourism can meet Nov. 26 to 28 in Belize City to discuss ideas and actions to suggest at the World Ecotourism Summit in May om Canada.

"These preparatory meetings are intended as an objective review of
ecotourism, looking at both positive and negative impacts, with
recommendations for action. . . ," said a release from the Belize coordinator.

The United Nations has designated next year the International Year of Ecotourism.

Also involved are the U.N. Environmental Programme, the World Tourism Organization and the International Ecotourism Society.

The Programme for Belize, an ecotourism organization there, has been designated as principal co-host for the Central American regional meeting, which will be taking place at the Radisson Fort George Hotel.

Other Co-host of this event are: RARE Center for Tropical Conservation/Mesoamerica Ecotourism Alliance, Conservation International, Rainforest Alliance and The International Ecotourism Society, said an announcement. 

Sessions to be covered will include: ecotourism planning in protected areas, community involvement and community-based ecotourism, ecotourism as a business activity both from the for-profit and non-profit perspectives and ecotourism policies at the national level and at the International Level, said a statement from the Programme for Belize.

Registrations range from a high of $545, including meals and four-nights at the hotel, to $285, to include lunches and registration. More information is available at the Programmeís Web page: 

http://www.pfbelize.org
 


 
 
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