The state's participation in tourism development begins on the year of 1930, with the creation of the first private hotel called "Gran Hotel Costa Rica", as a first class hotel; it was built with the private sector's support, and promoted by the Government of the Republic. Tourists tended to come from overseas, entering the country via the Port of Limón, where they commuted to San José by train on the railroad owned by the "Northern Railway Company".
In 1931, the first normative regulating tourism activity is decreed, by means of Law 91, of June 16, 1931, when the "National Tourism Board" is created, which operated until August 9 of 1955, date when the entity we now know as "Instituto Costarricense de Turismo", was created by Law 1917.
Currently this institution has an ongoing process of organizational change, searching to reinforce the processes performed up to date by the institution; but more importantly, it is carrying out a series of proposals on new functions and processes that the institute should undertake in order to make Costa Rican Tourism industry more competitive, so that it keeps its share of the international market.
The main changes center around: strengthening of the processes of formulation and implementation of planning for tourism development, attraction and assessment of investors, development of quality and competitiveness systems, development of marketing in an integral way, tourist attention, generation of information for decision-making, reinforcement of processes for improving administration (comptrollership services, income, administrative analysis, among others.
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ICT's mission, according to the National Development Plan has been proposed in the following terms
Promote a wholesome tourism development, with the purpose of improving Costa Ricans' quality of life, by maintaining a balance between the economic and social boundaries, environmental protection, culture, and facilities.