Percentage of North American tourists visiting Costa Rica declines

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    Henriette Jacobsen,

    Over the last six years the percentage of North American tourists in Costa Rica has declined, new figures show. However the percentage of visitors from Central and South America has increased.

    According to the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo, there has been a fundamental shift in the tourism market since 2005. Back then, North American visitors made up 53% of the foreign tourists coming to Costa Rica while Central and South American tourists were just 30%. By 2010, North Americans declined to 48%, and Central and South Americans increased to 38%. In total, 2.1 million tourists visited Costa Rica in 2010 as opposed to 1.7 million in 2005.

    Although the percentage of North American tourists was lower, the total number increased over the past six years with around 110,000 from 895,370 to 1,005,309.

    Costa Rica’s tourism institute has received both good and bad news during the last couple of months. In March the U.S. magazine, International Business Times, ranked Costa Rica first on its list of most popular adventure tourism destinations. Costa Rica was also ranked among the “Top 10” preferred destinations where newly-weds have chosen to spend their honeymoons. But Costa Rica also saw a slight setback on world tourism competitiveness in 2010 compared to the year before according to a World Economic Forum report.

    Infrastructure needs upgrading

    Costa Rica was still ranked fifth in the region, but dropped one spot overall to number 56 out of 139 countries. The country gets excellent marks for its natural resources where it’s ranked 6th because of its many World Heritage sites, its very diverse fauna, and a high percentage of nationally protected areas. Costa Rica has also continued to improve its environmental sustainability over the years and now has a notable high rank as number 25 overall. However, there are also things to improve.

    Health and hygiene where Costa Rica has a 74th spot remains a concern. And although Costa Rica’s tourism infrastructure is relatively well-developed and gets a 39th place, this is mainly due to a strong presence of major car rental companies and abundant hotel rooms. The ground transport infrastructure needs a significant upgrading. Costa Rica receives a 93rd spot in this area particularly because the roads and ports make travelling in the country difficult.

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