Wednesday 20 January 2021

Airlines will have 300,000 seats available to travel to Costa Rica in December

The Spanish airline, Iberia, was the first to restart international flights to Costa Rica on August 3. From there, tourist arrivals show a very slow recovery, but better figures are expected in November and December, with the opening to all countries

QCOSTARICA – Costa Rica will have, in December, potentially 299,822 available seats on airlines filled with tourists, according to an estimate published by the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT).

The Spanish airline, Iberia, was the first to restart international flights to Costa Rica on August 3. From there, tourist arrivals show a very slow recovery, but better figures are expected in November and December, with the opening to all countries

This forecast is obtained through the OAG Schedules Analyser, based on airline schedules database and the tools which enable you to analyze and identify trends, and updated from the Global Distribution Systems “GDS” and includes the round trip of the aircraft.

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GDS is a computer network and reservation tool that transfers the seat inventory and flight rates to travel agents with the possibility of making reservations, explained the ICT, when publishing the figures in its biweekly Tourism Monitoring document, dated October 23.

The increase in the availability of seats for Costa Rica is significant in recent months, after the beginning of the gradual reopening of flights since last August 1.

The same source of information said that the number in August was 11,485 seats. In October the availability was 37,379 and for November 117,566 are expected. It should be remembered that Costa Rica’s high season for tourism begins in December, coinciding with winter in the northern hemisphere.

The estimates are based on the interest of airlines to fly to the country and increase services.

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The Spanish airline, Iberia, was the first with scheduled flights to Costa Rica on August 3, followed by Germany’s  Lufthansa on August 5.  From the United States, United Airlines, though it maintained repatriation flights since the closing of the air borders in March, resumed scheduled flights to and from Costa Rica on September 3, American Airlines on September 9. and Spirit on September 10.

Panama’s Copa Airlines resumed scheduled flights on September 10, and Mexico’s Aeromexico on October 17.

Meanwhile, Air France will resume tomorrow, October 31, and Colombian airline Avianca on November 1, according to the ICT.

In 2019, the total number of seats reached 4,072,259 seats, a growth of 5.8% compared to 2018, when it was 3,847,567 roundtrip seats.

Meanwhile, the number of flights in 2019 closed at 25,822, explained the ICT.

The increase in the offer of flights is one of the angles of the Costa Rican strategies in the face of reactivation, which was described by the private sector as very important, together with the opening to all countries, the elimination of the negative test of the COVID-19 and other internal measures.

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Rubén Acón, president of the National Chamber of Tourism (Canatur), added to the international measures the flexibilities in the sanitary vehiclular restriction and the extension of hours to enjoy the beaches.

However, Acón agreed with the ICT that the use of the offer of seats in airplanes will probably be low next December, the tourism sector estimates it at around half.

Throughout the five months of (December to April) of upcoming high season, the private sector estimates that between 275,000 and 345,000 tourists arrivals, close to between 20% and 25% of pre-pandemic periods.

To this is added the possibility that tourists will reduce the length of stay in Costa Rica, as well as the total amount of spending.

According to the figures from the ICT page, the average expenditure per tourist in 2019 was US$1,438 and the average stay was 12.6 nights per person.

Starting from scratch

All these efforts to lift the tourism sector, hard hit by the pandemic, happen while international arrivals to Costa Rica by air fell 62.7%, in the accumulated from January to September of this year, compared to the income registered for the same period last year

Data obtained from the statistical reports of the ICT indicate that, in the first nine months of 2019, Costa Rica registered a total of 1,836,023 international arrivals by air, while for this year the accumulated of that period it reached 672,901 foreigners (the majority arriving prepandmic (January to March 19).

That meant an abrupt halt to the growth brought by the arrival of tourists in previous years.

In a comparison of revenues for each month, September (the last available) reflects a very slight recovery compared to the period from April to August, months of great negative impact for tourism due to the closure of flights, and the gradual opening starting August 1.

Even so, this past September, in relation to 2019, represented a 97% fall in international arrivals, although two percentage points less than the decrease in August (-99%), compared to the same month in 2019.

The most critical month, according to these statistics, was July, with a record of just 418 international arrivals. For August it had already increased to 1,636 arrivals and for September, based on data from the General Directorate of Migration, a total of 3,371 international arrivals by air was reported.

In December 2019, 255,611 tourists arrived in Costa Rica by air, according to figures from ICT reports.

In the midst of the difficulties due to the impact of the pandemic, Acón said that a better situation could be felt in November and December, with the opening to flights of all destinations.

“It seems as if the clouds are clearing up,” said the Canatur president in relation to the reactivation, although he warned of the need for financial aid for businesses prepare to receive tourists.

Kathia Valverde, president of the Costa Rican Association of Tour Operators (ACOT) was more pessimistic, saying that so far there are few reservations, on the one hand, and businesses face difficulties in restarting, on the other.

Meanwhile, the ICT said that it has activated public relations actions, digital advertising, communication to the industry and to end customers to inform them that the destination has opened its air (and sea) border.

Requirements to enter Costa Rica

Starting November 1, 2020, tourists from all destinations will be allowed entry into Costa Rica via air or sea.

In addition to a valid passport and visas if required, tourists are required to complete the onlineepidemiological form –  HEALTH PASS – and acquire medical insurance either from a national carrier (INS or Seguricor) or internaitonal carrier.

Foreigners with an immigration category of permanent or temporary resident are required to demonstrate they are current with the Costa Rican social security (Caja) insurance.

Neither Costa Ricans nor foreigners will receive a sanitary order of confinement upon entering the country.

On October 26, 2020, Costa Rica eliminated the requirement of a negative PCR test to enter the country.

While air and maritime borders are open to the arrivals of tourists, the land borders with Nicaragua and Panama continue restricted to only the entry of Costa Ricans.


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"Rico" is the crazy mind behind the Q media websites, a series of online magazines where everything is Q! In these times of new normal, stay at home. Stay safe. Stay healthy.

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