(QCOSTARICA) Jean-Marc Lampron, from Montreal, Canada, has been visiting Guanacaste for the past 15 years every summer. This year was not going to be the exception, but the high cost of the trip forced him to look for another destination.
Lampron, in an interview with Ameliarueda.com, said the INS insurance required to enter Costa Rica would cost him US$900 dollars for a two-week stay, in contrast to the US$110 the Canadian travel insurance, which covers the costs of a Covid-19 hospitalization and repatriation, for a year.
“I am ready to return. Normally I enter Costa Rica on December 1st and until the end of March. But if I have to pay almost a thousand dollars for insurance alone, it doesn’t make sense,” Lampron said.
Like him, several Canadian tourists confirmed canceling their trips to Costa Rica as a result of the high cost involved.
Greivin Brenes, the owner of the Rincón del Cactus tourist agency, reports 20 confirmed cancellations in the last two days alone when the insurance costs were announced.
“In the coming weeks, I am sure that there will be many more cancellations not only for me but for many sectors that try to promote tourism in Costa Rica. A lot of people are going to look in Mexico, which is much cheaper,” said
Brenes added that besides the confirmed cancellations, he has around 60 people who have contacted him wanting to change their destination because “Costa Rica is too expensive”.
iCosta Rica opened its international borders on August 1 to tourists from Canada, the European Union, and the United Kingdom.
Air Canada and WestJet have confirmed their first flights to Costa Rica from Canada will be mid-September.
As part of the requirements to enter Costa Rica, the Ministry of Health ordered tourists to test negative for a Covid-19 test conducted in the last 48 hours before the trip and mandatory to purchase travel insurance by the Instituto Nacional de Seguros (INS), the State insurer.
The cost of that policy for two weeks, the average stay in Costa Rica according to the Tourism Board, is US$275 for minors, US$280 for 30-year-old and up US$964 for older adults, the population most vulnerable to Covid-19.
“This is the reason for the change of destination but I also see that the situation in Costa Rica with the coronavirus is not very good. What you hear here is that the situation is quite bad. If in addition to that we have to pay a thousand dollars to cover a problem for a period of two weeks, it doesn’t make sense,” said the tourist.
Costa Rica’s National Chamber of Tourism (Canatur) asked government authorities to review the cost of this policy, since it would discourage the economic reactivation of tourism, according to a statement.
Rubén Acón, president of the Canatur, says he is hopeful other insurers will be able to sell coverage. “We advocate that the amounts of some of the coverage that seem to be extremely high and disproportionate, be readjusted,” he added.
On Friday, President Carlos Alvarado asked the Minister of Tourism and the Minister of the Economy for a review of the INS rates.
On Saturday, the INS announce it would be rolling out a lower-cost insurance product as soon at it receives regulatory approval.
Meanwhile, the tourism sector is asking the government to allow tourists to enter the country with insurance purchased abroad, which would cover them if they develop or get infected with the coronavirus in the country.