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U.S. travel advisory says visitors to Costa Rica should ‘exercise increased caution’

January 7, 2020

The United States Department of State issued on Tuesday a travel advisory warning that visitors to Costa Rica should “exercise increased caution” due to crime.

In doing so, the U.S. State Department has downgraded Costa Rica from Level 1 — the highest level, which indicates travelers should exercise normal precautions — to the new categorization, which it shares with nearby countries including El Salvador, Mexico and Colombia.

“While petty crime is the predominant threat for tourists in Costa Rica, violent crime, including armed robbery, homicide and sexual assault, occurs in Costa Rica,” the U.S. State Department advisory reads. “The Costa Rican government provides additional security resources in areas frequented by tourists.”

In a press conference, Costa Rica’s Foreign Ministry “categorically rejected” the change.

“Although the Government of the Republic of Costa Rica respects the decision of a country of which it has been a partner, friend and ally in different areas, including the fight against drug trafficking to the United States and the reception of thousands of migrants from the Americas, it considers that the adjustment from Level 1 to 2 unfair and disproportionate,” a Foreign Ministry statement read.

The Foreign Ministry, citing data from the Public Security Ministry, says fewer than .05% of tourists reported being victims of theft in 2019.

The Level 2 categorization could impact tourism, by many measures Costa Rica’s largest industry. Costa Rica has attracted an increasing number of tourists in every year since 2010 and welcomed more than 3 million tourists in 2018.

The Costa Rica Tourism Board says more than half of tourists to Costa Rica originate from North America — and largely from the United States.

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