For the first time since mid-March, a plane with tourists has arrived in Guanacaste, Costa Rica.
Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport welcomed United Airlines flight 1442 from Newark, New Jersey in style on Saturday morning, celebrating the return of commercial flights with a water-cannon salute and a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The 68 passengers — who received welcome gifts after deplaning — were traveling on the first commercial flight to Guanacaste since the country established coronavirus-related border restrictions on March 18.
“Tourism activity in the Chorotega region has been affected in recent months due to the country’s health situation. We know that the tourism sector is key for the region, and we believe that the reopening of the Daniel Oduber airport will promote a recovery in economic activities of Guanacaste province,” said First Lady Claudia Dobles.
Arriving tourists had to meet a series of requirements, including purchasing travel insurance, completing an epidemiological form and showing proof of a negative PCR-RT coronavirus test.
Watch the plane’s arrival in the video below:
A water salute is a ceremonial gesture for special flights — such as a significant new route or to honor the career of a retiring pilot.
“The start of scheduled flights to Liberia is of enormous relevance for the gradual reactivation of tourism in the province of Guanacaste, La Fortuna and Monteverde, given that travelers who enter through the Daniel Oduber traditionally also visit those regions,” said Tourism Minister Gustavo Segura. “Although we will receive fewer tourists than before the pandemic, they are safe and firm steps as we approach the high season that begins in November.”
“United Airlines celebrates 30 years of flying to Costa Rica, and what better way to celebrate it than by returning to a world-class destination? We are very proud to be able to contribute once again to the economic and tourist development of the country by joining Guanacaste with the world,” said Carlos Granados Hernández, United Airlines sales manager for Costa Rica and Nicaragua.
Prior to the pandemic, Liberia International Airport connected Guanacaste with 23 destinations in North America and Europe.
In 2019, the airport handled 599,433 passengers — 8.5% growth compared to 2018 — according to the Costa Rica Tourism Board.