QCOSTARICA – Costa Rica’s Tourism Board, the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (ICT) said Wednesday that is coordinating with private laboratories the lowest possible cost of covid-19 tests for Americans visiting the country and locals who want to travel to the United States.
The ICT announcement follows the decision announced on Tuesday by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to require a negative PCR test from all international travelers, both its citizens, residents and visitors, as of January 26.
According to the media statement from the CDC, the negative test must be within the 3 days before boarding the U.S. bound flight, and airlines must confirm the negative test result for all passengers or documentation of recovery before they board.
The requirements, for example, affect Americans visiting Costa Rica who must now scurry to find a lab or clinic to get tested and adds an additional cost to their visit. A current poll of the costs for a PCR test in Costa Rica by the Q revealed the cost starts at ¢53,000 colones (US$88).
A family of four (parents and two children), for example, visiting Costa Rica would incur an additional US$352 for the tests, the cost and logistics to get to and from a test site at least two days prior to their return flight, and the anxiety of waiting the 24 to 48 hours for the results.
The Minister of Tourism, Gustavo Segura, told the Q that “Costa Rica is absolutely respectful of the sovereignty that each country has to make the decisions that seem correct in times of pandemic”
“The (CDC’s) decision represents one more challenge for the Costa Rican tourism industry, but I am sure that together we can overcome it,” added Segura, in a statement provided by the ICT, on this Wednesday, January 13.
In an official written reaction, the ICT said, “The plan is to have these tests available to travelers from the United States and tourists of other nationalities, throughout the country, for less than US$100 each.”
Minister Segura reported that since last week they considered the imminent option that US authorities take this measure. For that reason, he added, a working group was set up, in conjunction with the network of private laboratories in Costa Rica, authorized by the Ministry of Health, to carry out the PCR tests.
The objective is to have logistics ready shortly to serve international tourists throughout the country and that tests can be done.
Read more: Where to get a Covid test in Costa Rica
Tico travel to the United States
Sary Valverde, president of the Costa Rican Association of Travel Agencies, assured that the additional cost of performing this test will further limit the interest of Costa Ricans to travel to the United States.
She added that currently the demand of Costa Ricans to travel to the United States represents only between 10% and 15% of what was had at the same time of 2019. She considered that the cost will be the fundamental obstacle and not so much the logistics of the laboratories.
Other countries now require PCR tests
For several weeks, the citizens of Spain, and on January 7 those of Canada, have had this requirement and that worked for Costa Rica as a kind of pilot test. That helped prepare to meet the demand of Americans, the largest source of tourists to the country, said the Tourism Minister.
According to Segura, the protocols in Costa Rica are very solid and, based on that, the country feels very safe to continue inviting international tourists to come. Visitors to Canada, including Canadians and residents, must also quarantine for 14 days.
He concluded that international tourism is of low epidemiological risk and, therefore, should be encouraged for the economic recovery of especially rural and coastal areas.