(QCOSTARICA) Costa Rica will open airports on August 1 to tourists, but the National Chamber of Tourism (Canatur) estimates that the arrivals will be “dropper” in relation to the average in the months prior to the pandemic.
“With the opening of borders, although it is beginning to reactivate, the amount of income will not be enough. We have estimated that at the beginning it will be about 5% of what was in the pre-Covid era,” said the president of Canatur, Rubén Acón.
According to Acón, with the opening of the borders several things will come into play,. Firstly, the number of airlines that will resume activities will be few, and with a decrease in the frequency of flights. In addition, the health situation of each country will reduce the number of travelers. Another factor will be prices, which will have to drop to be competitive and attract tourists, Acón said.
“We are going to work at a loss for many months,” added the businessman. According to him, the sector, even with this opening, will require financial support from the government.
Sary Valverde, president of the Costa Rican Association of Travel Agencies (ACAV) agreed that opening borders will not immediately resolve the crisis in the sector.
“It is a great expectation that we can open sales by August 1. But that does not mean that we are going to have lots of sales and tourists will not be coming quickly or that Costa Ricans are going to leave on the first flight we have,” said Valverde.
“This new reality of traveling is much more complicated than we expected. It will help us to be a little more measured in our expectations, “he added.
Acón indicated that the opening is “necessary”. This because it would send a signal to the rest of the world that the sector is activating and would allow them to perfect the protocols for the high season; from November to January.
COVID-19 cases in the country, however, are multiplying at an accelerated rate: in a matter of twelve days, the accumulated cases doubled. Acón, however, said the opening will not exacerbate the health crisis.
“There is a mistaken perception that if the air borders are opened, the cases will increase. It is wrong. Tourism is not a source of infection. Air protocols are going to be applied that guarantee that the visitor comes healthy,” assured the businessman.
For his part, Valverde pointed out that the entry of tourists will be low at the beginning but will allow maintaining connectivity with other markets.
“The most important thing today is connectivity. (Beore the pandemic) 29 airlines came to the country. Today, we don’t know how many are going to come. But the most important thing is to have connectivity with Costa Rica’s largest markets: the United States, Europe and Canada,” said Valverde.
Acón, however, clarified that there is still uncertainty about the reopening, since until July 21 – 11 days until the opening – they still do not know the airport protocols. However, he clarified that the other operating protocols are ready.
Of his part, Health Minister Daniel Salas, reconfirmed on Monday that the plan to open the San Jose airport (SJO) and the Liberia airport (LIR) in Guanacaste is still on and that this week we will learn of which countries will be on the welcome list.