Costa Rica reports a gradual rebound in tourists at the end of 2020
During the past year, the Central American country registered a little more than 1 million international arrivals by all routes
International arrivals in 2020 by all routes reached the accumulated figure of 1 011 912, which represents almost a third of the record for 2019 when they exceeded 3 million.
With the return of 20 airlines from the main tourist source markets and the announcement of new routes at the end of the period, December registered the entry of 71,000 tourists by air, almost doubling the visitation registered in November when 36,044 were reported. according to data from the General Directorate of Migration and Foreigners analyzed by the Costa Rican Institute of Tourism.
Gustavo J Segura, Rector Minister of Tourism, recalled that 2020 is an unprecedented year. "The uncertainty and restrictions derived from the pandemic caused world tourism to collapse and the country received a third of the tourists who normally walk in Costa Rica," said the chief.
Despite this, Segura highlighted as an achievement that the country, which had its air and maritime border open for only seven months of the year, five of them in the pandemic season and only 4.5 months to all countries in the world, has closed the 2020 with a third of what was achieved in 2019, while other world destinations have barely reached 5% of their historical figures.
“Each tourist who visits Costa Rica contributes to recovering the tourism sector, a process that, as we have repeatedly pointed out, will be gradual. Tourist visitation also activates a series of productive chains in the culture, agriculture, fishing, and commerce sectors, among others, ”added the Minister.
The hierarch said that there is a greater recovery of tourists from the United States, not so much from Europe, where the emission of tourists is decreased by the state of the pandemic in the old continent, the restrictions imposed in their countries and the distance that separates us, among other reasons.
Precisely and, according to the data for December, a visitation by air of 52,027 tourists from North America was reported, specifically from the United States (45,641) and Canada (4,450), which historically have been the main source markets.
Both countries accumulated in the 2020 period a total of 547,466 tourists who entered the Juan Santamaría and Daniel Oduber Quirós international airports.
According to data from the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Policy (MIDEPLAN), calculated based on the Input-Output Matrix, the income of citizens and residents of the United States of America (without differentiation by state), means the possibility of generating US $ 1 500 million in foreign currency, recover 80 thousand jobs and 2.5 points of GDP by 2021.
For its part from the European region, between January and December, 149,023 tourists from the five main tourist-sending countries visited Costa Rica the previous year amid the new global normality: France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands (Holland).
"World tourism is still under the effects of the pandemic, which makes it difficult to make future projections or estimates based on the information available, however, we are constantly working on the generation of new models to establish scenarios that we allow to analyze different possibilities for the growth of tourism in the future. With the arrival of the vaccine, the increase in efforts to contain the virus, the opening and reactivation of tourist activity, we hope that the activity will show a rebound for the second half of 2021 ", said Rodolfo Lizano, Director of ICT Planning and Development.
In a discussion with representatives of the press on Friday, January 8, the Minister of Tourism highlighted the challenges that the Costa Rican tourism sector will face in 2021.
Segura pointed out the challenge of recovering the trust of international tourists who still do not feel confident to travel by plane or to get away from their homes. This challenge is conditioned by elements beyond our control such as new waves of SARS-CoV-2 in the markets of origin, virus mutations, restrictions in source markets (for example Europe), among others. Costa Rica must do everything in its power to take advantage of what it can control, such as maintaining a safe opening.
In addition, the Minister of Tourism added the challenge of maintaining Costa Rica's brand presence in the main markets (USA, Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, Switzerland and the Netherlands) with a budget greatly reduced by 2021 and at the same time highlight the strengths, such as being a destination that can be visited at any time of the year, with multiple outdoor activities, sustainable and safe.
A third challenge is to bring economic relief to tourism companies so that as many as possible survive the onslaught of the pandemic. In this sense, in coordination with the Ministry of the Presidency, a series of bills proposed by deputies from different political parties and by the Government were summoned to extraordinary sessions, whose approval will be key to the reactivation of the economy in general and the tourism sector in particular.
The Minister of Tourism also said that a different look from commercial banks towards the private tourism sector is desirable to sustain the rural and coastal economies of the country, making companies operate at a point of equilibrium. Also, in charge of coordinating their own actions to address this particular challenge, Segura said that together, public and private representatives will go to other State entities to analyze and identify measures that can alleviate the financial situation of a sector that has been engine of the national economy.