Tourism industry contributes 6.3% of GDP to the economy of Costa Rica

The services of accommodation, gastronomy, road transport and medicine are the activities with greater participation in that industry

The Central Bank of Costa Rica (BCCR) with the collaboration of the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT), presented the results of the Tourism Satellite Account, which highlights that the contribution of this industry to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country. increased from 4.4% in 2012 to 6.3% in 2016.

To measure the size of the tourism industry, it can be compared with other economic activities. For example, the contribution to the GDP for the year 2016 of computer services was 2.2%; the production of electrical energy contributed 2.1%; the manufacture of medical instruments and supplies contributed 1.8%, and a traditional activity such as banana cultivation accounts for 1.1% of GDP.

This statistic also allows international comparability. While in Costa Rica the contribution of tourism to GDP was 6.3%, in Mexico it was 8.7%; 1.9% in Canada and 1.8% in Colombia.

By participation of economic activities in tourism in 2016, the most important were accommodation services (20.9%), food and beverages services (20.9%), road transport (12%) and assistance in medical services (10.4%). In the following illustration, the contributions of the activities are detailed:

At the level of employment it is concluded that the industries characteristic of tourism employ about 211,000 workers, which represents 8.8% of total employment for 2016.

On the other hand, of the total tourist consumption, determined by the expenses made by vacationers, 59% corresponds to receiving tourism (tourists from other countries that visit us), 17% is outbound tourism (nationals who visit other countries) and 24% are nationals who vacation in the country.

"The presentation of the tourism satellite account is the manifestation of the interinstitutional commitment to achieve a job that allowed us to reach an outcome that would not have been possible without the support of the technical teams of the Central Bank and the ICT. This new statistic comes to swell our macroeconomic figures, which are undoubtedly fundamental for decision-making at the country level, "explained Eduardo Prado, manager of the Central Bank, who participated in the presentation of the results, this Thursday.

The Minister of Tourism, María Amalia Revelo, said: "The Tourism Satellite Account enriches our knowledge about this industry and thereby enhances the opportunities to raise public policies, programs and projects more effective for their development. The meticulous understanding of the economic dynamics of the sector allows us, in addition, to create better awareness among all the actors that participate directly or indirectly in this economic activity on the importance of tourism and the responsibility that we assume for the development to which we aspire as a country " .

More results
Another of the Central Bank's analyzes was the preparation of the Tourist Product Input Matrix (MIP), which allows indirect effects of tourism on the economy to be measured. For these data, the 2012 product input matrix, the import matrix and the national accounts system were used.
As a result of the calculation of the Tourism MIP, the contribution of tourism for 2016 goes from 6.3% (direct effects) to 8.2% of GDP, as a result of the indirect effects that this generates on other activities due to the purchase of supplies and raw materials, as well as the demand for complementary labor, among others.
The methodology of the satellite tourism account is closely linked to the central framework of the System of National Accounts, and therefore constitutes a specialized extension of it, which allows to dimension the contribution of this activity in the economy of a nation. It also enables the identification of industries that produce goods and services that are intended for tourists.
Find all the information on the Tourism Satellite Account on the Central Bank's website (

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