The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has asked Costa Rica to reconsider the requirements it’s imposing on arriving tourists.
In a press release issued earlier this week, IATA — a trade association representing many commercial airlines — argued that Costa Rica’s measures “make the country less attractive as a tourist destination.”
Starting August 1, Costa Rica opened its airports to commercial flights from select countries. Visitors must present proof of a negative PCR-RT coronavirus test and purchase valid travel insurance, among other entry requirements.
Currently, only a policy from the National Insurance Institute (INS) qualifies, though that is under review.
“While we understand that this measure is solely aimed at covering the cost of medical treatment in case of falling ill with COVID-19 during a stay in Costa Rica, it will dissuade people from traveling to the country,” said Peter Cerdá, IATA Regional Vice President for the Americas.
The National Tourism Chamber (CANATUR) and Costa Rican Hotel Association have also criticized the travel insurance requirement, while INS president Róger Arias Agüero said the institute is exploring ways to lower premiums.
“Our only interest is to contribute to the revival of tourism, provide protection to foreigners who visit the country and avoid — as much as possible — the saturation of public health centers,” he said in a video statement.
IATA also said mandating that tourists present a negative coronavirus test is a “redundancy” since Costa Rica is already restricting arrivals to certain countries.
The Health Ministry requires that visitors take a PCR-RT test within 48 hours of their departure to Costa Rica. (Until Monday, the timeframe has been relaxed to 72 hours, per Health Ministry guidelines.)
“Restricting operations to certain countries and at the same time requiring COVID-19 testing as an entry requirement for all passengers will discourage demand for travel and therefore impact tourism and the national economy,” Cerdá said.
Costa Rican health authorities have argued that imported coronavirus cases “are one of the biggest risks” the country faces in its fight against the pandemic. Tourism, however, is an important economic driver and represents 8.2% of GDP, according to official data.
As of Tuesday, the country has announced 181 COVID-19-related deaths. Nearly 400 people are currently hospitalized, saturating one major public hospital.