Costa Rica is on track to welcome between 2.3 and 2.5 million tourists by air in 2023, breaking previous tourism records according to projections by the Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT).
This historic number would surpass the 2,117,960 tourists that arrived in 2022 and eclipse pre-pandemic levels seen in 2018 and 2019. Tourism is a vital part of Costa Rica’s economy and these projections indicate a strong rebound in international travel.
The impressive growth is reflected in the statistics for the first nine months of 2023. A total of 1,848,208 tourists entered the country by air between January and September, up 16.4% compared to the same period last year.
September saw 111,696 visitors arrive through the two international airports, Juan Santamaría and Daniel Oduber. Traffic through Juan Santamaría, the country’s main gateway, grew 9.6% with 86,140 passengers.
The overwhelming majority of tourists still come from North America. Between January and September, Costa Rica received 1.3 million visitors from the region, an 18.2% increase over 2022. The U.S. remains the largest source market with 1,095,135 travelers. Canada and Mexico follow behind.
“These exceptional numbers bring us closer to exceeding pre-pandemic levels. It demonstrates Costa Rica’s commitment to driving social progress across all regions of the country,” said Minister of Tourism William Rodríguez.
Europe is another area of growth this year, with 319,691 visitors arriving from the continent in the first three quarters, 4.9% more than last year. France and Germany lead European countries with double-digit expansion of 11.3% and 13.7% respectively.
The ICT revealed that 90% of all tourists fly to Costa Rica, emphasizing the importance of the two international airports. Juan Santamaría Airport facilitated the entry of 69% of visitors so far in 2023.
Costa Rica continues to captivate tourists with its natural beauty, beaches, adventure activities, culture and cuisine. With a global satisfaction score of 87 out of 100, the future outlook for tourism remains strong.
The tourism boom is also creating valuable employment. According to the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses, about 154,930 individuals worked in tourism-related jobs in the first half of 2023, consistent with the 7% tourism represents of the total workforce over the past decade.
While Costa Rica enjoys this influx of foreign visitors, Ticos are also traveling abroad more than ever. From January to September, 881,760 Costa Ricans ventured overseas, a 38% jump compared to 2022. The top destinations were the United States and Mexico.