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Tourism sector says vaccine mandate will hurt high season

The Costa Rica Tourism Chamber (CANATUR) says Costa Rica’s upcoming vaccine mandates could have a “devastating and irreversible effect on tourism activity” and again asked authorities to delay the measure.

CANATUR, which groups tourism businesses and regional chambers from across Costa Rica, does not have direct authority to change vaccine mandates, which are the purview of the Health Ministry as established in the General Health Law.

But they do have influence and said more than 58% of businesses surveyed reported having received cancellations related to the vaccine requirements, which take effect January 8, 2022.

“Cancellations are already a reality, and inevitably, more will come,” said Rubén Acón, CANATUR president.

“We cannot fail to notice how difficult this will be for companies in the sector. It will bring down the high season, the dream of an entire sector that longed for and expected to have this recovery period without further difficulties, but, on the contrary, the Government announces a measure that threatens it.”

CANATUR said it was in favor of a vaccine mandate if it were enforced after the tourism high season, and it said it would also support a promotional campaign to encourage Costa Ricans to get vaccinated.

About 2.8 million Costa Ricans are fully vaccinated, representing two-thirds of the target population. And most Ticos support a vaccine mandate, per a recent national survey from the University of Costa Rica.

Concern about QR code

CANATUR also expressed uncertainty about the QR code that will be necessary for individuals ages 12 and older to confirm their vaccine status and enter most businesses as of January 8.

The organization said there was “little information” offered to the public about what data would be stored and who would have access to it. The Health Ministry has said it is the only institution with access to the data and that the QR code contains: name, date of birth, vaccination state, ID and an electronic seal from the Health Ministry.

Finally, CANATUR said it was concerned businesses would struggle with enforcing the vaccine mandate.

“The most burdensome thing is that more than 90% of the sector is composed of family businesses, unstaffed sodas or waiters and small businesses in rural areas. How will they assign someone to verify the QR code?” Acón said.

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