QCOSTARICA – Costa Rica will reopen the land borders to tourists starting Monday, April 5, announced this Tuesday afternoon the Minister of Tourism, Gustavo Segura.
The land borders with Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south have been closed to tourists, due to the pandemic, since March 18, 2020.
Though anyone can leave the country by land, at first only Costa Ricans were allowed to enter. Within months of closures, legal residents (with the DIMEX card) were also allowed entry by land.
On April 5, tourists entering by land will be required to complete the health pass and purchase travel insurance, from a local provider or international insurance to cover medical and lodging expenses for their intended stay in Costa Rica, to the maximum of 90 days as per immigration rules for tourists.
“As long as the tourist complies with immigration requirements such as a visa, if required, the same air entry requirements apply, you must complete the epidemiological form and previously purchase national or international medical insurance,” Segura explained during Tuesday’s press conference from Casa Presidencial.
In August 2020, Costa Rica began the gradual reopening of its air and sea borders to allow tourists to visit the country.
According to the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (ICT) – tourism board – from August 2020 to the end of February 2021, some 240,000 tourists arrived in the country, a small fraction of the pre-pandemic tourist arrivals for the same period.
Minister Segura added that only 0.1% of tourists arriving have tested positive for covid-19 and these figures promoted the decision to open borders to promote regional tourism.
“Many of the European tourists who visit us are interested in combining multinational destinations,” Segura explained, giving the examples of tourists in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, and Bocas del Toro, Panama, wanting to visit Costa Rica.
“Undoubtedly, being an industry that was prepared for more than 3.5 million a year, 20-25% is hardly enough for a reactivation, but many countries have not even reached 10%,” Segura said.
In his closing remarks, Segura reiterated the call to support the national tourism sector Semana Santa (Easter Week).
“Let’s support small businesses, restaurants, local guides, because they are people with a lot of preparation to remind us of the protocols and they are prepared to guide tourism experiences in a safe way. The call is that they do it with care and supporting cultural tourism”, he concluded.
The tourism sector has the harder hit by the coronavirus measures that included the closing of borders.