The US carrier American Airlines inaugurated this past Wednesday a direct flight between the Juan Santamaría airport and the American city of Chicago. It is a route that American will operate three times a week in the framework of the high season in Costa Rica and the next arrival of winter in the United States.
“We celebrate the growth of American Airlines and its presence in the country to attract new tourists from Chicago, as well as the stimulus towards a more accelerated recovery for the sector. Without a doubt, this is the result of good management between the public and private sectors, where the airline, ICT and we participate as administrators of the main airport in Costa Rica,” said Ricardo Hernández, CEO of Aeris.
Gustavo J. Segura, Minister of Tourism, highlighted the importance of Chicago being one of the four US destinations that concentrates the largest number of potential tourists interested in traveling to Costa Rica.
In the case of Daniel Oduber Airport in Liberia, American will fly direct to Chicago once a week. This city is only below New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, according to studies carried out by the ICT.
Call of attention
The inauguration of this route occurs on the same day that the tourism sector launched an urgent call for attention to the Government. The sector projects $ 400 million in losses it would have in the high season -which begins in December- due to the obligatory nature of the complete vaccination scheme for those who wish to enter the shops, whether they are Costa Ricans or foreign tourists.
The alarm was launched this week at a press conference by the National Chamber of Tourism (Canatur) and the Costa Rican Chamber of Hotels (CCH). Rubén Acon, president of the National Chamber of Tourism (Canatur), assured that a survey carried out with hotel businesses established that there are 15% of cancellations in reservations for the next few weeks. For now, the losses for the sector add up to $ 2.5 million. “The obligation to have the scheme and have a QR code is a measure that goes in the opposite direction of the recovery of tourism,” he said.
For his part, Javier Pacheco, president of CCH, went further in predicting that if the measure is maintained, the losses in four months would be $ 400 million. “It is a snowball that will not stop and it is not only the cancellations, it is what we also stopped selling,” said Pacheco.
For now, Costa Rican tourism registers -64% of visitors compared to 2019. The government indicated that it will be as of January 8th when it will be mandatory to request the QR code to enter the shops.
The request made by the tourism sector is that the vaccination requirement be requested after the high season. “We request to postpone the entry into force of this obligation until after Easter,” said Acon.
The sector indicates that it is willing to collaborate with vaccination campaigns, but they ask to be allowed to work, because tourism employs 250,000 people directly and 600,000 indirectly. “It is not by affecting tourism and international tourism that we will convince Costa Ricans to get vaccinated,” said Acon.
Without certainty for tourism
According to the measures imposed by the Executive Power, the vaccination QR will be necessary to enter key tourism businesses such as:
Restaurants, sodas and coffee shops
Bars and casinos
Stores and shopping centers
Hotels, cabins, accommodation centers and spas
The control of QRs will start optionally on December 1. Businesses that admit only vaccinated people will be able to operate at 100% and those that do not, at 50%. As of January 8, the measure will be mandatory.
Faced with questions about how the requirement for foreign visitors would be controlled, the authorities have limited themselves to saying that it will be included in the health pass that is filled out when entering the country, without giving further details, they announced that the option will be enabled the last week of November, a few days after the provision enters into force.