Costa Rica will open its borders to foreign tourists on August 1, Health Minister Daniel Salas announced Friday.
At that time, the country will allow flights from countries that have controlled the spread of the coronavirus.
Salas did not immediately detail what countries could be included on that list, though the Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT) has proposed allowing visitors from the European Union, the United Kingdom and Canada.
“We will announce that with more detail in an appropriate moment,” Salas said Friday regarding the list of countries.
“It will go hand-in-hand with what other countries, such as European ones, are managing.”
Salas also said Friday that the country has nearly finalized its protocols for arriving tourists. The country’s international airports have previewed some of those measures, which could include visitors presenting an epidemiological form created by the Health Ministry.
That protocol will be announced in July, Salas said.
The August 1 date applies to both Juan Santamaría International Airport, near San José, and Daniel Oduber Quirós Airport in Liberia, Guanacaste.
“We are completely ready for a prompt return,” said Aeris, which operates the San José-area airport, Costa Rica’s busiest. “We have prepared with the goal to apply health protocols under the supervision of respective authorities that guarantee the security and protection of passengers.”
Repatriation and cargo flights can continue throughout July, Aeris said.
Costa Rica’s borders have been closed since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic. During that time, Costa Rica has allowed only citizens and residents (with some exceptions) to enter the country.
Tourism comprises an estimated 8.2% of Costa Rica’s GDP.
In 2019, Costa Rica welcomed 3.1 million foreign visitors, 4.1% more than in 2018. Those tourists remained in the country for an average of 12.6 days and spent an average of $1,400, according to the ICT.
Last year, nearly 235,000 people visited Costa Rica from Canada, while more than 500,000 people arrived from Europe.
In 2019, more than 1.3 million tourists came to Costa Rica from the United States, more than any other single country by far.