Saturday 2 December 2023

Costa Ricans are headed overseas in record numbers, making history

Destinations include the United States, Europe and South America

Paying the bills


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2 December 2023 - At The Banks - Source: BCCR

Paying the bills


Q COSTA RICA – In the midst of the good news that Costa Rica is recovering the arrival of foreigners for 2023, it is striking that Costa Ricans are increasing their trips abroad during the first six months of the year.

Airplane taking off from a runaway at the Guanacaste Airport (LIR) in Liberia, Costa Rica. Wikimedia Commons

The Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (ICT) – Costa Rican Tourism Board – reported that the number of Costa Ricans traveling abroad in the first half of the year increased by 39% compared to the same period in 2022.

Over 555,000 Costa Ricans boarded planes in the first six months of the year.

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This situation could be related to two specific issues. The dollar exchange rate has made it more affordable to buy tickets and tourist packages for Costa Ricans, however, some have complained that vacationing in the country is too costly and thus prefer to look for alternatives abroad.

“We are seeing an indirect benefit from our passengers’ clientele, seeing the opportunity to buy dollars to travel, which is a good time to travel internationally, to leave the country, because they will have to spend fewer colones to buy those dollars that they had to buy before for the same trip,” said Ronald Álvarez, president of the Asociación Costarricense de Agencias de Viajes (ACAV) – Costa Rican Association of Travel Agencies.

The ICT has reported that the number of trips made by Costa Ricans to South America during the first six months of this year has already surpassed the total number of trips made to that region in 2019. Additionally, the number of trips to the Caribbean has gone beyond the total trips made prior to the pandemic.

The travel projections of Costa Ricans abroad will exceed the figures for 2022 and those prior to the pandemic, a situation that generates confidence in the flight schedule and the number of seats of the airlines that currently fly to Costa Rica, according to the ICT.

Airplane taking off from the Juan Santa María International Airport (SJO) at sunset.

The Índice de Precios al Consumidor (Consumer Price Index)  of the Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censo (INEC) – National Institute of Statistics and Census – has recorded a steady decrease in the cost of air tickets and tourist package prices during the year 2023.

During March, April and May, ait tickets particularly saw a substantial drop in cost, while tourist packages had reduced prices in both March and May. According to Álvarez, this is an opportune moment to travel, as people can purchase more dollars with the same amount of colones.

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The preferred destinations for Costa Ricans during the first half of the year have been the United States, Mexico, Europe and South America.



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