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How to support Costa Rican businesses and communities during the coronavirus crisis

While the new coronavirus hasn’t yet caused a health crisis in Costa Rica, the pandemic has had widespread repercussions for the country’s economy. 

More than 550,000 Costa Ricans have applied for emergency financial support from the government over the last month. All branches of economic activity are affected by the crisis, according to the Central Bank, and the tourism sector has been particularly affected. 

Tourism comprises an estimated 8.2% of Costa Rica’s gross domestic product, and industry leaders say the sector has been “paralyzed” since the country enacted border restrictions in mid-March.

While Costa Rica has begun relaxing some coronavirus measures, it may take years for the country’s economy to rebound. 

If you have the means, here are ways you can help Costa Rica throughout (and after) the coronavirus crisis: 

Support communities and businesses with a donation

Founded in 2000, Amigos of Costa Rica connects donors like you with organizations in Costa Rica that need your support. Over the last month, they have compiled a list of community emergency funds and nonprofits that are directly addressing the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus crisis. 

If you have fond memories of a Costa Rican town, consider supporting that community. Or if you’re passionate about a specific social cause, consider donating to a related nonprofit. 

Amigos of Costa Rica is a time-tested 501(c)(3) organization, and donations are tax-deductible in the United States. Affiliate organizations report back to Amigos of Costa Rica annually, so you’ll see the impact your donation is having. Click here for more information and to donate. 

You can help specific businesses from afar, too. Many hotels and restaurants sell gift cards, and online stores like Local Keeps connect you directly to Costa Rican artisans. For more suggestions, click here.

Donate your time 

If you suddenly have a lot more free time than usual, consider joining the Costa Rica Corps. The new online platform pairs virtual volunteers with organizations in Costa Rica that need your help. 

Through the Costa Rica Corps, you can make a difference from the comfort of your home. Many small businesses in Costa Rica need temporary volunteers with experience in planning, marketing and communications, administration and management, graphic design and audiovisual production, online education and other topics. The Costa Rica Corps can focus your skills on making positive change.

Click here to learn more and to make a difference. 

Don’t cancel; postpone 

If you were planning a vacation to Costa Rica that was affected by the coronavirus crisis, consider rescheduling the trip rather than canceling it entirely. 

Most airlines are offering generous rescheduling policies, and the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) has asked that businesses in the tourism sector offer similar flexibility. 

When it’s safe to travel, Costa Rica will welcome you with open arms. 

Why this matters 

Costa Rica has leveraged its natural beauty and biodiversity become a renowned ecotourism destination. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the country will welcome a fraction of the tourists in 2020 than it did last year. It may take years for Costa Rica’s tourism-dependent economy to rebound to pre-coronavirus levels. 

Many communities across Costa Rica rely heavily on international visitors. On the Osa Peninsula, for example, tourism allows families to promote conservation rather than relying on damaging activities like illegal hunting and mining. 

The well-being of the Costa Rican people is inextricably linked to the future of those protected places. 

With your support, we can protect Costa Rican families and Costa Rican wildlife, helping the country remain an ecological paradise for years to come. 

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