CRC Daily: The new US travel requirements are bad news for Costa Rica

The tourism industry, and Costa Rica's economy, will suffer.

The United States will soon require that all arriving air passengers show proof of a negative coronavirus test. This measure takes effect starting January 26 and applies to all travelers, including US citizens and permanent residents.

This is bad news for Costa Rica, which has an economy that relies heavily on tourism in general and on U.S. visitors specifically.

Tourism is one of Costa Rica’s main economic drivers, generating 8.2% of GDP and supporting 600,000 jobs. The United States is by far the biggest contributor to this sector: In 2019, 1.3 million U.S. visitors arrived in Costa Rica.

The new U.S. travel requirement won’t eliminate Costa Rica’s biggest tourism market entirely, but it will cause the number of visitors to shrink significantly. In addition to creating a logistical challenge for potential tourists, the Covid test raises the cost of a trip by about $100 per person.

“Tourism is the tip of the spear for reactivating the economy,” the Tourism Minister said last week.

But the sector relies heavily on factors outside of Costa Rica’s control. Unfortunately, the new U.S. travel mandate delivers a strong blow to economic recovery.

Costa Rica has made efforts to sustain international tourism despite the pandemic. It has eliminated most entry requirements and ensured that local measures have a minimal impact on visitors.

Now, the Tourism Ministry says it’s rushing to increase testing capacity for tourists at private labs across Costa Rica.

“The world is experiencing a pandemic, and we must take action and adjust to changes on the fly,” the Tourism Ministry said in a statement. “Costa Rica is a destination committed to complying with health protocols, and we thank travelers for their trust.”

Click here to read the official press release from the CDC.

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