Costa Rica will welcome tourists from the United States starting in September, Tourism Minister Gustavo Segura announced Wednesday.
U.S. tourists will only be welcomed if they are residents of the following states: New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont and Connecticut. Passengers must prove their residency in one of those states using their driver’s license.
“We have included the license-plate requirement to minimize the likelihood that someone from a non-authorized state be allowed to enter,” Segura said. “We are minimizing our epidemiological risk.”
Tourists must obtain a negative PCR-RT test within 48 hours of their flight and purchase a travel-insurance plan that covers COVID-19. (This can be a pre-approved Costa Rican plan, or a foreign one that meets a series of requirements.)
In addition, all arriving passengers must complete an online health form.
The Costa Rica Tourism Board says that it expects about four flights a week from the airports of Newark (EWR), La Guardia (LGA) and John F. Kennedy (JFK). All are located in the New York City area.
“In these moments, [New York] is one of the states with best control of the pandemic,” Segura said.
Airlines can operate routes to Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) near San José and Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (LIR) in Liberia, Guanacaste. It will mark the first commercial flights to LIR since Costa Rica imposed its border restrictions.
Segura said Costa Rica is analyzing the coronavirus situation in Colorado, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania, and that residents of those states may soon be allowed to visit Costa Rica.
Segura said allowing U.S. tourists goes “hand-in-hand” with responsible behavior from tourism companies and the visitors themselves. Costa Rica currently permits all open-air tourist activities, but face coverings are required in most indoor situations.
Costa Rica has kept its borders closed to U.S. tourists since mid-March due to the pandemic. Tourism is one of the country’s biggest industries, comprising 8.2% of its GDP, and the United States is the country from which most people visit.
More than 1.3 million tourists came to Costa Rica from the United States in 2019, more than any other country by far.
The U.S. State Department has issued a Level 4 travel advisory for Costa Rica due to the coronavirus and crime.
Costa Rica currently allows tourists from 44 countries, including the United Kingdom, the European Union and Canada.