Costa Rica has become a costly destination, evident when compared to neighboring countries like Colombia and Mexico.
“We are seeing that tourists resent and complain about the cost of visiting Costa Rica, that is undeniable. When tourists come here, they say that everything is very expensive. Here it is more expensive than in New York, and that, without a doubt, is going to have a negative effect”, said the president of the Chamber of Tourism, Rubén Acón.
One of the main problems the sector has faced is the exchange rate. The sale of the US dollar at the Central Bank reached ₡534.70; the lowest since the currency reached a historic ₡698.44 in June of the previous year.
As Acón explained, the sector is facing a process of appreciation of the local currency that is affecting it greatly. Despite this, he believes that pre-pandemic visitation levels are recovering.
“We are returning to 2019 levels. However, the truth is that when it comes to grabbing those dollars and converting them into colones to pay our operating expenses there is a difference of 20% or 22% that has us in a very complicated situation, where companies are losing profitability, but additionally we are losing competitiveness,” mentioned the president of the Chamber of Tourism.
Although tourism has managed to be sustained to date, projections for the exchange rate are not very encouraging and this, he says, will continue to encourage the image of expensive destination that the country already has inside and outside our borders.
In this same sense, the former president of the Central Bank, Rodrigo Cubero, assured that the numbers in tourism begin to materialize the warnings that had been raised months ago due to the appreciation of the colón against the dollar and the position.
“It is an exchange rate that at a historical level is relatively low and this could put pressure on sectors that are important for the generation of employment and welfare in Costa Rica such as tourism, exports and the attraction of foreign direct investment, all of which could be at risk as a result of this sustained appreciation of the exchange rate,” explained Cubero.
Concerns abound over potential company closures, job losses, and broader economic impacts. The country is perceived as increasingly expensive for locals, hindering economic revival. Many Costa Ricans now opt for cheaper vacation destinations abroad, such as San Andres, Cancun, or parts of the United States.
The sector eagerly awaits a government response to avert company closures and prevent potential economic crises.