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Tourism in Costa Rica Continues to Grow for a Number of Reasons

Tourism in Costa Rica continued to be a big growth industry in 2019. International air travel increased by 4.5% in the first six months of this year. More than 1.3 million people flew into Costa Rica, equating to almost 60,000 additional arrivals.

“The figures reflect stable, strong growth,” said Maria Amalia Revelo, the Minister of Tourism. “The increase in arrivals from Europe is particularly gratifying, since it shows that Costa Rica is growing as an important destination in that market,” she added. 

Where are tourists coming from?

Arrivals from Germany in particular increased by 13.7%. In total, more than 760,000 came from the United States; 150,000 came from Canada; 255,000 came from Europe; and 365,000 from neighboring countries. The Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT) creates a destination promotion plan for each country of origin, based on their arrival statistic.

Tourism in Costa Rica is one of the fastest-growing economic sectors in the country and 2018 was no exception. Costa Rica welcomed 2.8 million tourists last year. Americans and Europeans represent 65% of those visitors, spending more than $1000 per person.

Starting in December, those flying between Spain and Costa Rica can experience an upgrade to the Airbus A350-900 — one of the most modern airplanes in the industry.

What’s on offer in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica was named “Mexico and Central America’s Leading Destination at the 2019 World Travel Awards Latin America. This is a prestigious award celebrating excellence in the global travel and tourism industry. Costa Rica was honored for “its lush cloud forests and rich biodiversity” according to the award’s organizers.

Costa Rica is one of the most important and recognized eco-tourism destinations in the world. Many communities participate in the Ecological Blue Flag Program, modeled on a similar program developed in Europe in 1985. So far this year, a total of 59 beaches in Costa Rica earned the highest distinction. Additionally, Costa Rica was included in the 10 Best Ethical Destinations in the Developing World in 2018.  This list accounts for environmental protection, social welfare and human rights.

As a part of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples last week, Costa Rica announced that its laws will recognize the nationality of the Ngäbe indigenous population living on the eastern border of Costa Rica and Panama. This law affects 3000 members and gives them the right to self-determination. The government will also create a database of the Broran people in the southern area of Térraba. Their goal is to preserve their customs, traditions and cultural wealth.

This type of progress not only serves to protect indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination, but also helps to share their cultural knowledge with the tourism community. In the Southern Zone, the Boruca community near Sierpe is a good example of self-determination and economy built on sharing indigenous culture.

What’s being done to protect tourist safety?

More tools are being implemented to keep tourists safe. Police are being trained using Costa Rica’s tourism funds and new equipment is being purchased, like upgraded patrol vehicles.

Several new lifeguard programs have been stationed at Costa Rica’s popular beaches. Playa Ventanas, Playa Ballena and Playa Dominical in the Southern Zone regularly have lifeguards on duty. Signs have also been put in place at high-risk beaches, warning of riptides and other dangers. Paired with updated technology to monitor surf conditions, Costa Rica hopes to keep swimmers and surfers safe. 

ICT is launching a mobile phone application for tourists in six weeks’ time. Visit Costa Rica will offer “advice and information on beaches, cities, hotels, road transport, emergency contacts and directory with foreign embassies,” according to the their website.

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