(QCOSTARICA) The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Futuropa, an organization specialized in promoting Costa Rica as a tourist destination in Europe, warn that the high cost of mandatory traveler insurance by the Instituto Nacional de Seguros (INS) undermines the interest of tourists to visit the country.
On August 1, reopened the air borders to travelers entering the country from Canada and Europe. However, among other requirements, tourists must buy pandemic insurance from the State insurer, that to date is the only provider, and its costs ranging from US$275, for minors, up to more than US$965 for those over 70 years of age; the tourism sector foresees that it will deter the entry of travelers.
Daniel Chavarría, director of Futuropa explained that the high prices of the insurance has resulted in the private sector receiving cancellations, thus aggravating the economic situation of tourism companies.
“The exorbitant prices of the INS compulsory travel insurance make us lose all this investment and tourists publish on their networks that they feel they being taken advantage of,” Chavarría commented.
The industry claims to be ready for the restart but warns that it will be necessary to create better conditions to stimulate demand.
Chavarría comments that this decision not only affects European tourism but also possible investors; He comments that it is his knowledge that there are people who made real estate investments in the country, which promoted a high visitation that would be affected by the cost of the INS insurance.
Another point made by Chavarría is that the impression given is that the government measures for tourists change from one day to the next without considering the implications of organizing a trip.
“The most serious thing is that the insurance purchase was enabled last minute, it seems that they are improvising. A tourist does not get on the plane overnight, it takes at least three or six months of planning.”
For its part, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) comments that the government policy makes the country less competitive as a tourist destination.
“Although we understand that this measure seeks to cover the cost of medical treatment in the event of an eventual contagion in Costa Rica, we consider that it is a deterrent to attract tourism to the country. Any difference in the cost of the trip could seriously and directly affect the recovery of both the tourist sector and air transport,” said representatives of this organization.
“This would put into play the important contribution of this key sector of the economy that is hard hit after five months of paralysis,” said Peter Cerdá, IATA Regional Vice President for the Americas.
Both organizations warn that in order for Costa Rica to once again have a high frequency of foreign visitors – more than 3 million in 2019 – they must allow tourists to buy insurance from the insurer of their choice, provided it meets all the COVID-19 requirements.