The opening of Cóbano Airport on Saturday ushers in a new era of tourism growth in Costa Rica’s treasured southern Nicoya Peninsula, but also raises environmental concerns in the ecologically fragile region.
The private airport, funded by foreign and local investors, is strategically located just 1 km from Cóbano town and 14 km from the booming surf town of Santa Teresa.
“It responds to the need to connect our district to key tourist destinations across Costa Rica,” said Cóbano Mayor Favio López at the opening ceremony. He touted the airport’s “significant private investment” and ability to provide “higher quality service” to visitors.
The location offers easy access to southern Nicoya’s pristine beaches and world-class surf breaks that draw thousands of visitors each month. With the closest airport previously being Tambor, Cóbano provides a more convenient regional hub.
Mayor López aims to establish direct flights connecting Cóbano to major tourist sites like La Fortuna. This could slash travel times from Santa Teresa from five hours driving to just 35 minutes flying.
Major airlines like Sansa and domestic operators will run flights from the airport. Onsite car rental, restaurants, stores and tour operators will also service visitors.
While tourism represents a major economic boon, the region’s fragile ecology poses challenges. Striking a balance between boosting business and preserving the paradisiacal landscape will be key.
“We strive for greater cohesion and support from the government to grow sustainably,” said López. The area’s rare wildlife, pristine beaches and jungles require careful stewardship amidst ballooning tourism.
With its new international gateway, southern Nicoya is primed for major growth. But preserving the wild, tropical beauty that draws so many to our beautiful Costa Rica will require foresight from developers, stakeholders and the Costa Rican government alike. Let’s Hope!