Costa Rica is one of Latin America’s top tourist destinations thanks to its lush rainforests, beautiful beaches and comparatively low levels of crime.
Now San José, the country’s generally overlooked capital city, hopes to draw in even more tourists with the construction of the world’s newest Chinatown.
With the help of over $1 million from the Chinese government, Costa Rica completed an almost 2,000-foot long pedestrian street lined with a Tang Dynasty-style archway, Chinese style shops, restaurants and other stores that San José’s mayor hopes will become a travel destination on its own, a boost to the local economy and a symbol of friendship between the countries.
It was definitely worth the wait. Many stores closed, and some of us are indebted, but the sales now reflect that the wait was definitely worth it.
- A local storeowner
Construction on the world’s newest Chinatown began in February and many of the stores located in the area suffered slow sales, but store owners seem optimistic about the newly revamped neighborhood.
“It was definitely worth the wait. Many stores closed, and some of us are indebted, but the sales now reflect that the wait was definitely worth it,” said a storeowner, according to Inside Costa Rica.
The local government believes that Chinatown will also bring in a significant boost San José's local economy.
“This type of investment definitely brings profit to all those who have properties (in the area), especially those that are in front of the boulevard on 9th street,” said Marco Vinicio Corrales, from the Municipality of San Jose. The entirety of San José’s Chinatown goes between the city’s 2nd Avenue and the Liceo de Costa Rica (Costa Rica High School) as well as stretching between 2nd and 14th avenue and 7th and 11th streets.
Earlier this week hundreds of people celebrated the opening of the neighborhood with a traditional Chinese parade attendee by the mayor of the municipality of San José, Johnny Araya, and the Chinese Ambassador, Li-Hua Chan.
There are around 100 Chinatowns worldwide, with the most famous ones in the United States located in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Costa Rica has a sizeable Chinese immigrant population, especially in San José with many new arrived immigrants coming from Taiwan to establish businesses.