Tourism is the first source of income for our country’s economy. The tourism sector directly employs 150,000 people. Costa Rica currently has to offer 48,000 hotel rooms. The tourism industry has 45% of the income from tourism in the Central American region and stands out as the most visited destination of the isthmus. With an approximate of 700 visitors per thousand inhabitants, our country has one of the highest rates of tourists per capita in the Caribbean area.
Most people who visit us from abroad come from the United States and Canada, making up 68%, and from European Union countries 18%, which gives on average approximately between US$ 1,400 and US$ 1,500 value per visitor, among the highest in Latin America.
Tourism contributes with 10 percent of the country’s GDP and represented 20% of direct and indirect jobs. Since the beginning of the 2000s, tourism generates more foreign exchange income for the country than the export of bananas and coffee together.
Costa Rica offers conditions of sun, beach, jungle, mountain, adventure, ecotourism, rural and community tourism. It also has potential in the areas of sports, wellness, health, fashion and convention tourism. Ecotourism is extremely popular among foreign tourists who visit the vast number of beautiful National Parks and protected areas that we can find all over the country.
Costa Rica has been one of the pioneers in ecotourism and is recognized as one of the few international destinations with real ecological tourism options. In the classification of the Tourism and Travel Competitiveness Index of 2017, the country reached the 38th position, being the 4th classified among Latin American countries.
The competitive advantages to develop tourism ventures are in the area of human, cultural and natural resources, in which Costa Rica ranks 33rd worldwide, and is ranked sixth when the natural resources factor is considered solely. The TTCI report also indicates that the main weaknesses of the Costa Rican tourism sector are its relatively low number of sites of cultural interest, the time needed to open a commercial establishment, and the need for improvement in seaport infrastructure, in the position 132.
Health tourism is emerging as a very good opportunity for Costa Rica, and the Government of Costa Rica has declared through executive decree, health and welfare tourism as a public interest.
Our country has been chosen as the best destination in Central and South America, in several occasions according to the annual edition of the Readers Choice Award, which is organized by the Travel Weekly magazine.
The Wonderful World of Theater
In the field of performing arts, the theatrical activity of our country is very dynamic. We have a state performing company, the National Theater Company. The theater is taught professionally in 2 state universities, in different private institutes, and in the National Theater Workshop. There are 14 theater halls in operation. They are independent, 3 staterooms and also some regional, where you can see from classical theater to vaudeville, which has generated an audience tastes for very different theater forms.
On many occasions, there may be amateur theater groups in some communities. Although in our country the theater has been growing since the mid-20th century, with the founding of the University Theater and the Arlequin Theater in 1950, this has also been thanks to well-known actors and directors from Argentina and Chile, who left their countries in the 1970s, fleeing the military regimes that had been established there. That circumstance greatly influenced Costa Rican theatrical activity, which experienced a boom period in the 1970s and led to a solid professional training system.