Costa Rica Begins a New Stage in the Reactivation of its Tourism Sector

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    With the total opening of its air borders and the application of specific health protocols, Costa Rica begins a new stage within the framework of the COVID-19 Pandemic, in the search to reactivate the tourism sector, one of the main drivers of its economy.

    After 3 months of a gradual opening of its air border, as of November 1st there are no more restrictions and Costa Rica will receive flights and visitors from anywhere in the world, as long as they meet a series of requirements, such as having valid health insurance.

    Since August Costa Rica has received flights from Canada, Europe and some cities in the United States, and according to the authorities the process has been a success and allowed the total opening as of November.

    It is already confirmed that starting in November, Avianca, Air Canada, Jetblue, Delta, British Airways and KLM airlines will restart operations in Costa Rica, joining others that had already done so such as Iberia, Lufthansa, Copa, Aeroméxico, United and American. The airline Air France resumed its flights to Costa Rica on October 31st.

    Employment For The Peak Season

    Official projections indicate that for the peak tourism season, which begins at the end of November, Costa Rica will register a growth in the seats available for tourists, which will mean a step towards the full reactivation of the tourism sector, one of the most affected by the Pandemic.

    According to the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT), for the month of December there will be almost 300,000 seats to travel to Costa Rica, unlike in November when there will be 117,566 or October when the figure was just 37,379.

    ICT spokeswoman Melissa Tencio said that the response from tourists is being positive, as they consider Costa Rica a safe destination for their trips, which is expected to translate into an increase in employment in the coming months. “At the perspective level, we have always been clear that this is a gradual opening,” she declared.

    Tencio explained that before the Pandemic, tourism generated around 500,000 jobs and that it is expected that with this total reopening of the air border there will be a recovery of about 80,000 jobs.

    The Importance Of Protocols

    Juan Belliard, director of operations for the company AERIS, administrator of the Juan Santamaría international airport, told that the Pandemic has been a learning process and that with the implementation of protocols, the terminal is ready to receive more passengers.

    “We are having around 8 flights a day from 13 airlines and more will be added this November. The tourists have behaved correctly, follow the guidelines and are guided by the support staff”, said Belliard.

    During the first months of the reopening of air borders, Costa Rica asked travelers for a negative PCR test, travel insurance and other requirements, but as of November the test will no longer be necessary.

    Infrared cameras capable of detecting the temperature of passengers are installed in the country’s air terminals, and Red Cross teams are ready to attend to any suspected case of COVID-19 in coordination with the Ministry of Health.

    In addition, spaces for personal distancing when queuing or waiting for luggage are marked throughout the terminal, as well as numerous stations with gel alcohol and signs to respect the distance between people. On the other hand, the ICT carries out the supervision of the protocols in tourist companies and so far no outbreak of infections related to international tourism has been reported.

    An Economic Engine Hit

    Costa Rica, a country of 5 million inhabitants, received close to 3 million visitors each year before the Pandemic, a number that authorities and businessmen recognize will be difficult to recover in the short term. Tourism meant for Costa Rica before the Pandemic and income equivalent to 8% of its Gross Domestic Product.

    The Pandemic has dealt a severe blow to the sector, especially due to the period known as “zero season” that covered practically the entire first half of the year. As of July there was a timid reactivation when the relaxation of confinement measures that allowed Costa Ricans to do local tourism. As of August, with the gradual opening of international flights, the sector has begun to have some respite.

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