Costa Rica welcomed nearly 1 million tourists across the first 10 months of 2021, according to Tourism Board (ICT) data.
From January through October, the Central American country received 978,676 visitors. That includes 91,292 air arrivals during October, representing 67% of that month’s pre-pandemic figures.
Guanacaste Airport (LIR) in October 2021 handled more tourists (23,459) than the same month in 2019. This represents the first month during which a Costa Rica airport has surpassed its pre-pandemic volume.
“The growth shown to date is truly important for the country because it shows a sustained route of reactivation of the tourism sector,” said Gustavo Segura, Tourism Minister.
“It not only means that more tourists arrive, but it involves job recovery, activation of companies and commercial activity throughout the value chain of the industry in the face of a situation that remains complex at the international and national levels.”
Still, 2021 continues to represent a significant decline for tourism compared to 2019. That year, Costa Rica welcomed about 2.2 million people from January through October.
The majority of visitors in 2021 — nearly 650,000 people — have come from the United States.
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.
Costa Rica has eliminated most Covid-19 entry requirements for vaccinated travelers. However, the Costa Rica tourism sector has warned a vaccine mandate that will begin in early 2022 may impact the industry’s economic recovery.