(QCOSTARICA) The announcement that Americans from six states will be allowed in is a good sign for Costa Rica’s devastated tourism sector.
Although Costa Rica has gradually opened air borders, allowing commercial flights from Canada, the UK, and the European Union since August 1, allowing the entry of residents from New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine and Connecticut in September may be more significant for national tourism.
This not only because the United States represents 53% of the tourists that enter Costa Rica, but because it will allow the reactivation of the U.S. airlines in that have been waiting for an announcement of this type.
American, Southwest, Alaska, United and Spirit airlines are currently processing operating permits to reactivate the flights to and from Costa Rica, according to the Dirección General de Aviación Civil – Costa Rica’s Civil Aviation.
Volaris, of Mexican origin but which also operates flights in the United States, also is has submitted a request for a permit.
The decision to allow the U.S. airlines to resume commercial flights to the country would also activate the Daniel Oduber Airport in Liberia (LIR), an airport that is open for business but no airlines permitted to fly into, with at least two weekly flights in September, declared Gustavo Segura, Minister of Tourism.
For the Juan Santamaría (SJO) in San Jose, there would be four additional flights per week in the first days of September.
The opening of Texas, California, Illinois, and Florida, states with a significant load of tourists for Costa Rica, is what tourism entrepreneurs hope to further strengthen the sector, explained Rubén Acón, president of the Chamber of Tourism (Canatur).
The arrival of Canadians in September via Air Canada is another oxygen tank. Though, for now, Canada’s air carriers, Air Canada and WestJet has so far canceled flights for September, with an eye in October,
Receiving tourists from more and more destinations is a good sign.
The current flow- 2 to 3 commercial flights (not counting repatriation flights) a week from Spain and Germany is not enough to boost tourism.
Although official numbers are not available, in the first 21 days of the month, according to Canatur calculations, an estimated 1,500 tourists arrived on Lufthansa and Iberia flights,
Last year, 2.4 million tourists arrived in the country at both international airports.
The gradual opening of the air borders to Americans is a positive, leaders in the tourism leaders agree.
One of those is Ruben Acón, who said: “It is a step in the correct decision, understanding that the United States represents the majority of the tourists that visit us. Although there is still a fear of international tourism, the timely management that has been done at the airport has made entry from more countries more flexible.”
Sary Valverde, Chairwoman Association of Travel Agencies, said “Any route that is opened gives positive signals, in the sense that it favors the planning, the promotion of the destination and the confidence of the consumer. We can’t talk about recovery yet, but it’s definitely a lifeline”.
Pre-pandemic, most of the U.S. airlines had multiple flights daily into Costa Rica’s international airports, adding more frequency during the high tourist season and holiday periods.
Tourists arrived daily both at the San Jose and Liberia airports on direct flights from destinations such as New York (JFK & LGA), New Jersey (EWRS), Philadelphia (PHL), Baltimore (BWI), Miami (MIA), Fort Lauderdale (FLL), Orlando (MCO), Houston (IAH), Dallas-Fortworth (DFW), Atlanta (ATL), Chicago (ORD) and Los Angeles (LAX), among others.
According to Johns Hopkins University the situation with respect to Covid-19 of the states that will have authorization to enter Costa Rica, the new daily cases on August 20, were:
- New York, 601
- New Jersey, 100
- Connecticut, 59
- Vermont, 4
- New Hampshire, 14
- Maine, 19
- Florida, 4,555
- Texas, 5,303
- California, 5.585
For August 20, Costa Rica reported 666 new cases.