CRC Daily: How many people are visiting Costa Rica?

Costa Rica hopes tourism will reactivate the economy. Is it working?

Starting November 1, Costa Rica reopened its air borders to visitors from across the world. Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Costa Rica took a calculated risk, hoping tourists would spark a struggling economy.

Unfortunately, reopening airports hasn’t convinced all that many people to travel during a global pandemic. In November, air arrivals to Costa Rica recorded an 81% decrease compared to last year.

Here are Costa Rica’s tourism figures for November 2020:

  • 36,044 people arrived via a flight to Costa Rica in November 2020. That’s more than triple than in October (9,888), when Costa Rica was still restricting the countries and states from which tourists could visit.

  • The majority of the November air arrivals were from the United States, which represented 68% of the total arrivals. Europeans comprised 12% of the total arrivals in November 2020.

While the November numbers are “encouraging,” according to the Tourism Minister, they pale in comparison to the same month in 2019:

  • 191,346 people arrived via a flight to Costa Rica in November 2019.

  • 48% of November 2019 air arrivals were from the United States. Europeans comprised 21% of the total arrivals in November 2019.

As the holiday travel season arrives, Costa Rica hopes its outdoor, crowd-free spaces become even more attractive in context of a pandemic. The Tourism Board is promoting Costa Rica heavily in U.S. markets — even offering all-expenses-paid trips.

But as the pandemic rages, authorities in the U.S. and elsewhere are discouraging non-essential travel. Some states are enforcing isolation or testing restrictions that make trips difficult. And the economic crisis has impacted millions across the world, so fewer people have disposable income for an international vacation.

Costa Rica’s skyrocketing unemployment during the pandemic demonstrated just how much the country relies on foreign tourism. If November is any indication, it may be a long journey back.

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