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Costa Rica is the most expensive destination in Central America, says WEF

May 25, 2015

Costa Rica might be relatively expensive but the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index 2015 said the land of “pura vida” was worth the money.

The report released in May showed that Costa Rica is the most expensive destination on the isthmus but also one of its best values. Costa Rica ranked 42nd in the world on the global ranking, behind Mexico (30) and Panama (34) in the region.

Security, business environment and natural resources were all strong suits for Costa Rica. Ticolandia was one of the safest destinations in North America and the Caribbean, outscoring the United States (5.32), Panama (5.03), and Nicaragua (5.14).

Despite concerns from many Costa Ricans in the tourism sector about their ascendant neighbors poaching tourists — especially Nicaragua — the WEF reported that these countries still have a ways to go. Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua ranked 90th through 92nd, in that order.

Meanwhile, price competitiveness and infrastructure left something to be desired.

Costa Rica (4.4) was the most expensive option in Central America and ranked in the most expensive six countries out of the 15 surveyed in North America and the Caribbean, scoring slightly better than the United States (4.27).

WEF ranked Costa Rica’s ground and port infrastructure (2.86) as the second worst in North America and the Caribbean, ahead only of Haiti (2.13). Airport infrastructure was relatively strong compared to its Central American rivals but did not fare well compared to Mexico and Caribbean destinations, like Trinidad and Tobago or Barbados.

Where Costa Rica fell behind in physical infrastructure, the country made up for in tourism services. The country was fifth best in the region and significantly more advanced in tourism services than its neighbors.

The region as a whole did very poorly when it came to promoting its cultural resources for visitors. The report noted that many countries over rely on their beaches and wildlife instead of culture heritage. In March, Vice President Ana Helena Chacón announced an executive decree to promote Costa Rican cuisine as an avenue to attract foodies to the country along with beach bums and hikers.

Spain topped the 2015 list, followed in descending order by France, Germany, the United States and the United Kingdom.

Angola, Guinea and Chad were the lowest scoring countries this year.

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