If you had any worry about the vibrancy of the Costa Rican market because of recent the decline in markets around the world, let your fears in investing in Costa Rica be allayed: Europeans are increasingly being targeted as the new focus of major marketing campaigns by Costa Rica’s National Tourism Board for spending more on average and staying longer, and Europeans are being welcomed to the country with open arms by businesses and individuals alike.
While inflation has been rising in most Central American and Caribbean nations, the variation in consumer prices has been negative in Costa Rica – a strong advantage for investment. Costa Rica has been slowing momentum in this last quarter, likely a result of the elections in the biggest market visiting and investing into Costa Rica – the United States – however, the GDP is still up on the same period last year. The Central Bank expects the GDP to expand by 4.2% for 2016 and another growth of 4.3% for 2017.
FocusEconomics, an economic forecast organization consisting of leading economists from around the world, shows that solid private consumption is propping up Costa Rica’s economy, and this is continuing to grow each year – now with an added push from a new Costa Rica Tourism Board initiative targeting Europeans.
As the third largest tourist market behind the U.S. and visitors from neighboring Central American nations, the National Tourism Board of Costa Rica (ICT) and its affiliate CANATUR have been working hard to expand this market in 2016.
Costa Rica has a long history with Europe, with its first coffee exports to the Old Continent happening in 1843, still exporting large amounts of the tasty Arabica beans to Europe today.
In more recent times, the arrival of Europeans has been increasing every year, going up by 23,000 visitors in 2015 with trends in 2016 showing further growth. Europeans stay in the country for an average of 17 nights, making them the longest staying tourists, and spending the highest average per traveler of $1660 during their stay. This is compared to the average U.S. traveler that spends 13 nights and U.S. $1351.
ICT had expected a sharp increase for this year because of the recent openings of two new direct routes, bringing the total ports from European airlines to six: British Airways (London), Air France (Paris), Iberia (Madrid), and Condor (Munich, Frankfurt), Edelweiss (Zurich), Thomson (London). Air France is the newest addition to the air travel purveyors operating direct travel between European cities and San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica.
The increase in airlines arriving from Europe has brought down the airfare to as low as $800 USD per person for return economy. France is one of the main origins for tourists from Europe, with 55,000 having arrived in 2015, compared to 35,000 in 2010, an increase of 55%.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Condor connecting both Costa Rica and Germany, bringing in large numbers of people annually from countries all over Europe. As part of the anniversary celebration, Condor opened its second direct-to-San Jose port in Munich, intended to mobilize more Europeans to visit.
Juan Santamaria International Airport is being expanded to handle the addition of wide-bodied aircraft like Air France’s Boeing 777-300, the highest capacity commercial airliner to arrive in Costa Rica, carrying a maximum of 396 persons on board. New boarding gates with new boarding passages have also been constructed to accommodate the increase in travelers.
Increased promotion to European tourists includes an ad in May of this year with the ‘happiest goalie in the world’ – Keylor Navas – the goalie for Spanish club Real Madrid who was born and raised in Perez Zeledon, Costa Rica and plays for the national team here as well.
Futuropa is one organization which is specializing in promoting touring Costa Rica to Europeans. Members are tasked with understanding European travelers, providing information in several languages, catering their relations to tourists and business partners. Futuropa is currently the only organization that serves as an advisor to ICT in strategies for marketing to Europe. The intent is to create the best conditions for developing the European tourism market to Costa Rica and Central America as a whole. This means meeting the expectations of European travelers while maintaining the nation’s commitment to sustainable development of Costa Rica.
These types of promotions have resulted in tourism from Europe rising by 42% from 2010 to 2015. That is roughly 400,000 tourists from Europe, or 14% of the total visitors to Costa Rica, and ICT believes there is room to grow. Europeans tend to have different seasons for travel than tourists from North America, hopefully serving to spread the Costa Rican tourism season beyond the typical high season of December to April.
Private sector businesses are learning how to adapt to this new wave of tourism, many of which are beginning to hire French and German staff and guides to accommodate new preferences. Costa Rica has hired a public relations company, Futuropa, to help the tourism board target four growing markets: France, Spain, Germany and the U.K in an attempt to determine the defining characteristics of travelers from these regions. The results are intended to create new promotional material that will be tailored to these markets and their unique interests in Costa Rica’s attractions.
The mission is to showcase the warmth of the people and the climate in this natural paradise, filled with delicious, fresh foods and stunning scenery. Relaxation is the main-offer, with fun and adventure following closely behind. No matter where you are from in the world, Osa Tropical Properties is your team of real estate experts in moving you to the South Pacific zone of Costa Rica. We speak English, Spanish, and French and are happy to communicate with you in any of these, so don’t hesitate to get in touch with any questions you have about if Costa Rica is right for you.
“We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend.” – Robert Louis Stevenson.