By the end of the year, Costa Rica will have received at least 1.3 million international tourists, thus reaching 40% of the visitation compared to 2019. The figure could increase with the start of the high season, which began in the last week of November, and will conclude at the beginning of March 2022; this is how the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT) estimates it in its most recent review of possible scenarios.
“It is a very important percentage considering that the pandemic is not over yet and that world tourism is experiencing the most acute crisis in its history,” said Gustavo Alvarado Chaves, Minister of Tourism and Executive President of the ICT. “The route of the reactivation and recovery of the tourism sector is gradual, and most international experts foresee that the return to the levels of 2019 will occur within approximately two years,” added the Minister.
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From January to November, 1,130,377 tourist arrivals were registered by all routes, and on December 13, Costa Rica completed the return of the 29 airlines that flew to national soil before the pandemic, except for those that stopped operations for a situation of its own.
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“One of the challenges for 2022 is to increase the number of seats and get even closer to the pre-pandemic levels (338,693 seats in December 2021 versus 392,583 seats in 2019),” added the Minister.
The United States continues to be the main source market for tourists, a trend that has been maintained in recent months with a total of 732,343 international arrivals by air from January to November 2021; 63.8% of what was achieved in the same period of 2019. Special attention must also be paid to the Canadian market after the reactivation in October of the flights of four of the main airlines.
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To elucidate the possible changes in the behavior of those who visit Costa Rica for tourism purposes after the reopening and the entry of non-residents to the destination, the ICT is conducting an investigation, the final results of which will be shared in due course.
Preliminarily, the results of the surveys carried out with tourists who left the country through the Daniel Oduber Airport in Liberia, between October and November 2021, denote, among other things, a significant increase in the size of the travel group: traveling with Family and friends represented 38.4% in 2019 and in 2021 it became 42.7%. Previously, this airport was dominated by couples. This is consistent with the concept of “bubbles” or family or social groups of coexistence, which has been used in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“As can be seen from this example built with very recent data, tourism is not always about multiple contacts and agglomerations, much less in the sustainable Costa Rican model,” explained Minister Alvarado, while reiterating the call to respect the sanitary measures known by all to protect human life and at the same time the gradual recovery of our economy.
“From the ICT we will continue to make efforts to stay present in the minds of the best prospects or travelers with a high interest in visiting Costa Rica from the main markets, reinforcing the positioning of Costa Rica as a biosecure destination and a destination to reconnect with what is truly essential of life ”, concluded the hierarch.