Costa Rica welcomed 114,227 international arrivals at its airports in August 2021, representing 32,688 fewer people than in July, according to data from the Tourism Board (ICT).
This marks an end to five-straight months of increasing tourism numbers, but the dip comes as no surprise; historically, August through October are Costa Rica’s slowest months for visitors.
Still, in August 2021 the country welcomed 34% fewer tourists than the same month in 2019, an indication of the ongoing impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
The ICT highlighted the nearly 22,000 Europeans who arrived in August, marking the highest number so far in 2021. The highest percentage (8,790 people) came from Spain; 2,626 from Germany; 2,601 from France; 1,115 from Switzerland; 711 from the United Kingdom; and 660 from the Netherlands.
“Despite the travel restrictions established by the European Union for its citizens, these figures are encouraging for the gradual recovery of the Costa Rican tourism sector and generate positivism for the end of the year and the beginning of the high season. It also commits us to be vigilant in the application of health protocols,” said Gustavo Segura, Tourism Minister.
The United States remains Costa Rica’s top market. Of the 114,227 international arrivals, two-thirds came from the North American country.
From January through August 2021, Costa Rica has received 793,391 tourists by all routes; of those, 758,591 have entered through international airports.
Nine airlines offer direct connections between Costa Rica and the United States: Delta, United, Alaska, American, JetBlue, Spirit, Sun Country (seasonally), Frontier and Southwest. All U.S.-based carriers that served Costa Rica before the pandemic have resumed service.
In addition, Avianca announced new flights between Costa Rica and the United States that will begin later this year.
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 17.4%, among the region’s highest.
While Costa Rica is welcoming tourists from anywhere in the world, measures related to the pandemic continue to complicate international travel. The United States, for example, requires a negative Covid-19 test before returning on a flight from abroad. And in Europe, the United Kingdom has kept Costa Rica on its “red list.”
Costa Rica has eliminated most Covid-19 entry requirements for vaccinated travelers.