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Returning to Level 1 travel advisory ‘very difficult,’ US tells Costa Rica

Costa Rican authorities met with the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the State Department last week for an explanation of the U.S. agency’s issuing of a Level 2 travel advisory regarding the Central American country.

According to a summary of the meeting released by the Foreign Ministry, Costa Rica shouldn’t expect a quick return to a Level 1 advisory — the highest rating, which indicates visitors should “exercise normal precautions.”

As of Jan. 7, the U.S. State Department says international tourists to Costa Rica should “exercise increased caution” due to crime as part of its Level 2 advisory.

“The officials of the Bureau of Consular Affairs insisted that the change was due to a shift in the evaluation criteria, which is being carried out globally and will imply the reallocation of a warning level for most countries,” a Foreign Ministry statement reads.

“They also indicated that the level previously occupied by Costa Rica is now very difficult to reach.”

At the time of publication, 70 countries are under a Level 2 advisory, while 113 are under a Level 1 advisory. Thirteen nations have been issued a Level 3 advisory (“Reconsider Travel”), and an equal number are at a Level 4 (“Do Not Travel”).

The meeting notes shared by the Foreign Ministry show Costa Rican authorities highlighted the country’s decreasing homicide rate, its partnerships with the United States-run International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Office, and its lengthy relationship with the U.S. tourism industry.

U.S. officials “stressed that they do not expect that there will be an impact on the tourist attraction of [Costa Rica] for the U.S. market,” according to the Foreign Ministry.

Costa Rica receives more than 3 million tourists each year, and about 40% of them originate in the United States.

The State Department said the Level 2 advisory is “a recommendation given to travelers seeking prevention and that they be attentive to their surroundings during their stay abroad.”

Costa Rica has expressed an “energetic protest” of the Level 2 advisory and, during Mike Pompeo’s visit earlier this month, asked the U.S. Secretary of State to re-evaluate the rating.

Pompeo said the State Department would review the assessment “as quickly as we can.”

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