(Rico’s DIGEST) OPINION – If the country, come August 1, continues to prohibit the arrival of foreign tourists, more than half of hospitality operates are at risk going out of business before the end of the year.
As long as the borders are restricted to international tourists people will be safe from the coronavirus, but the economic fallout will deepen and the government will face more difficulties in finding aid to those who lose their jobs.
Tourism is one of the main engines of Costa Rica’s economy. According to the Tourism Satellite Account of the Banco Central de Costa Rica (Central Bank), the tourism industry directly accounts for 6.3% of the national economy and 1.9% indirectly, which adds up to 8.2% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
In addition, the figures from the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (ICT) – Costa Rica’s Tourism Board – reveal that 8.8% of the country’s total employment comes directly from tourism. “Combined with the productive linkages and indirect employment the industry generates, it represents the main source of income for thousands of Costa Rican families,” according to the ICT.
During the first half of 2019, the country saw 1,549,812 international arrivals by air, the main source of visitors to the country. Of this total, 65% came from the United States and Canada.
If travel is resumed, within the next couple of months tourism is expected to recover, slowly, painfully, but recover it will.
Reopening the airports to international tourists with the exclusion of the United States – which now has the highest number of confirmed Covid-19 infections in the world – that represent more than half of tourist arrivals to the country, can be devastating to the country’s economy.
Besides tourists, there are also those who visit Costa Rica frequently. Many of them live here part-time, own property or businesses in the country, contribute economically, though technically still considered tourists.
Another reason for reopening the air borders as soon as possible is to eliminate the barring of foreign residents from returning if they abandon the country during the national emergency, under the threat of having the residency suspended.
Foreign residents, permanent or temporary, have formalized their stay in Costa Rica. With the exception of a few privileges to being nationalized, they work, live, pay taxes and contribute to the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS) or Caja. Yet their movements are restricted.
Then there are executives, representatives of foreign companies in the country, mainly from the United States.
In a previous post, I laid out a four-point solution to reopen the airports and resume the arrival of international tourists.
It is important for the government to strike a balance between health – safeguarding the right to life – and economy. If there’s no economy, there’s no health.
Thanks for listening.
Stay at home. Stay safe. Stay healthy.