International arrivals to Costa Rica dropped 83% in January and February 2021 compared to the same months last year.
According to official data from the Tourism Board (ICT), Costa Rica welcomed 117,450 people over the first two months of 2021. Last year, the country received 699,673 arrivals over the same span, which immediately preceded the coronavirus pandemic’s global travel impacts.
The majority of visitors to Costa Rica in 2021 are coming from the United States, per the ICT. Of the 117,450 arrivals, more than 60% (73,120 people) visited from the North American country.
France (5,265 people) is a distance second place, with Canada (5,016 people) in third.
Canada, which has imposed significant restrictions on international travel, has sent 94.4% fewer visitors to Costa Rica in 2021 compared to 2020. Tourism from the United States has declined 74.2% since early last year.
Still, there are some encouraging signs for the post-pandemic travel industry. In May, United Airlines will operate more flights to Latin America than it did in 2019. (This includes flights to Costa Rica from Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City and San Francisco.)
That month, American Airlines will “unground” remaining planes and operate all of its aircraft for the first time since the pandemic started.
Tourism is one of Costa Rica’s principal economic drivers. Before the pandemic, it contributed to 8.2% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and created 9% of the nation’s jobs, according to the ICT.
While Costa Rica is welcoming tourists from anywhere in the world, measures related to the pandemic have complicated international travel. The United States, for example, continues to recommend avoiding travel “until you are fully vaccinated” and requires a negative Covid-19 test before returning on a flight from abroad.
Canada urged its airlines to suspend flights to “sun destinations,” including Costa Rica, and imposes a mandatory quarantine of 14 days at minimum.