Costa Rica welcomed nearly 90,000 international arrivals in March, a significant increase compared with the first two months of 2021, according to data from the Tourism Board (ICT).
The country received 89,263 arrivals in March 2021, compared to 62,200 in January and 55,252 in February. The figure represents the most monthly arrivals to Costa Rica since March 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic began having a significant impact on international travel.
Through the first three months of 2021, 206,715 people have entered Costa Rica from abroad. This represents a 76% decrease compared to the same period last year.
Of the nearly 90,000 arrivals in March, more than two-thirds (70%) came from the United States. Mexico is in a distant second place (2,706 people), followed by Germany (2,448).
In addition to the March data, there are other 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.
And in July, low-cost carrier Frontier will inaugurate routes from Orlando and Miami, representing new flights from an airline that hadn’t served Costa Rica in several years.
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.
The unemployment rate in Costa Rica is 18.5%, among the region’s highest.
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. That has led to a 94% drop in Canadian visitors compared to 2020.