‘Costa Rica: Only The Essentials’ is Costa Rica’s newest international campaign to attract more tourism from the United States and Canada. Costa Rica’s Tourism Board (ICT) is branding the country as “an opportunity to connect with the essence of life: nature, well-being, culture and adventure.” These are the key reasons that brought many of us to visit Costa Rica. And the more that this message is received by people from around the world, the more visitors that Costa Rica is likely to receive.
Costa Rica: Only The Essentials
The brand new campaign, Costa Rica: Only the Essentials, is set to run for two years and will target a number of large cities in North America that already feature direct flight paths to Costa Rica. New York, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Minneapolis, Las Vegas, Tampa, Orlando, Denver, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Seattle, Austin, Detroit, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Toronto, Montreal and Calgary will all receive the ad campaign across various channels.
ICT has organized to lease billboards in these districts as well as pay for advertising on taxis, buses, and in subway stations. The government tourism agency will also sponsor content on platforms that include new media like TripAdvisor and classic publications like The New York Times.
“The campaign proposes a personal connection with what is truly substantial in life. And that is what Costa Rica offers through countless experiences, with its different landscapes, nature, culture and adventure,” said María Amalia Revelo, Costa Rica’s Tourism Minister.
The tourism campaign is the first step in President Carlos Alvarado’s plans to reinvigorate the Costa Rican economy. Elected in 2018, the current government has plans to continue the growth of Costa Rica’ economy through public and private investments.
Costa Rica’s First International Ad Campaigns
The tourism boom in Costa Rica began in 1987, when the number of visitors organically rose from 329,000 in 1988, to 1.03 million in 1999. Costa Rica’s government decided to capitalize on this growth and launched the 1997 “No Artificial Ingredients!” promotional video. The campaign “delivered excellent results,” according to former tourism minister Allan Flores.
In 2008, the numbers for international tourism in Costa Rica had doubled to over 2 million. However, the combined effect of the global economic crisis and the 2009 flu pandemic resulted in a reduction of tourists arrivals in 2009 to 1.9 million visitors, an 8% reduction as compared to 2008.
In 2010, the number of visitors began to rise again to 2.1 million, barely exceeding the 2008 peak. Using this boost in popularity, Mr. Sloth was introduced in 2011. It became an internet sensation overnight, offering free trips to Costa Rica. Even Anderson Cooper from CNN got involved, presenting a newlywed couple with a Gift of Happiness trip on his show.
An historical record of 2.5 million international visitors was achieved in 2014. That year, it grew 4.1%. This coincided with the “Save the Americans” campaign released in 2014, which targeted overworked Americans and Canadians. The ad won a “Webby” for Best Online Film & Video in the “Travel & Adventure” category. And in 2015, Costa Rica saw an increase to 2.66 million foreign visitors.
CNN and UNWTO Partnership Ad Series
In 2017, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) partnered with CNN International to launch ‘Essential Costa Rica: My Choice, Naturally.’ Partnering with CNN offered unprecedented reach to more than 450 million homes and 178 million unique monthly users.
This series of videos showcased Costa Rica as “a destination that generates authentic travel experiences.” This was Costa Rica’s first promotional focus in Europe, targeting France and the United Kingdom along with North American markets.
The video won the Gran Prix Termatalia/Art&Tour 2017. Each of the campaign’s videos highlights a different part of Costa Rica and invites users to learn more about the lifestyle that makes Costa Rica the happiest place on earth.
Importance of Tourism in Costa Rica
According to the Global Wellness Tourism Economy, the wellness tourism industry currently represents a market of US$563 billion and the tourists in this market spend in average 130% more than the average tourist. And Costa Rica is all about providing a natural, wellness experience that is truly ‘only the essentials.’
Much of Costa Rica’s tourism continues to come from the U.S. and Canada. During the first half of 2019, these two countries comprised 65% of all tourists arriving by air.
There were 415,000 arrivals of Europeans to Costa Rica in 2018. The majority of these visitors came from Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and Spain. This is an increase of 7.6% over 2017 figures.
Costa Rica currently stands as the most visited nation in the Central American region. We surpassed 3 million foreign visitors in 2018. Comparatively, Panama was ranked second in the region with 2.5 million, followed by Guatemala with 2.4 million visitors.
Aside from the many wonders that tourism in Costa Rica provides to visitors, tourism is one of the main engines of Costa Rica’s economy. It comprises an estimated 8.2% of Costa Rica’s gross domestic product (GDP) and supports 9% of all employment.
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