(QCOSTARICA) The Government on Thursday detailed opening up Costa Rica’s airports to international commercial flights, for now, from Canada, the European Union*, and the United Kingdom, as of August 1.
The first flights to arrive at the Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) in San Jose, are Lufthansa from Frankfurt, Germany, on August 2 and Iberia, from Madrid, Spain, on August 3; Edelweiss, from Switzerland, is scheduled to arrive on August 6.
Air Canada confirmed starting flights between Toronto (YYZ) and San Jose on September 12; Air France, with non-stop flights from Paris (CDG), starting on October 14; and British Airways, from London (LHR), starting on October 27.
For now, U.S. commercial flights are excluded from arriving in Costa Rica. The restriction leaves the Daniel Oduber international airport (LIR) in Liberia, Guanacaste, an airport open for business, but with no flights.
Gustavo Segura, Minister of Tourism, indicated that the opening of trips will be gradual and will begin with less than five flights per week.
To allow tourists to enter Costa Rica, a negative result COVID-19 PCR test will be mandatory in the 48 hours prior to travel; Complete the digital epidemiological form, which will be enabled in different languages, and purchase travel insurance that covers accommodation in case of quarantine and medical expenses for acute illness.
In the event that a tourist does not meet these requirements, they will not be able to embark towards Costa Rica.
Upon landing on Costa Rican soil, travelers must wear face protection and comply with the strict protocol of the air terminal, respecting physical distance, have their taking temperature taken and following any other health instructions.
“The recovery of the (tourism) sector will be carried out with the utmost prudence and in accordance with strict sanitary protocols, always with the supreme conviction of ensuring the health and life of people,” said President Carlos Alvarado during the Thursday noon presser.
“This first stage of opening to international flights includes less than 1% of the volume of flights that the country received before the COVID-19 pandemic (552 weekly),” said Health Minister Daniel Salas.
The entry of foreign tourists was suspended last March 18.
“We are taking very gradual and analyzed steps in the direction of the economic revitalization that is very necessary for the protection of the business fabric and employment. It is necessary to give this signal of reopening of commercial flights for the reactivation of the tourism sector and we insist, in order to continue working in this line, it is important to comply with health protocols, a task that must be accompanied by the responsibility of businessmen, employees, clients and tourists,” stated the Tourism minister.
The inclusion of additional routes will be modified according to the development of the pandemic in our country and in the world. For now, all airport and immigration protocols will be tested.
More tourist activities allowed
Minister Segura pointed out that from August 1 the country’s beaches located in areas in yellow alert will be extended from 5:00 am to 2:30 pm.
On August 1, the operation of tours with outdoor activities will be enabled, including hiking, trekking, canopy, cable cars, rafting, water recreation and air recreation, all under strict compliance with sanitary protocols.
To confirm that sanitary measures are respected, the ICT (Tourism Board) created the Institutional Protocol Verification Brigade COVID-19 with the collaboration of its regional headquarters.
In addition to the above, to promote national tourism, this Thursday the first phase of the Vamos a Turistear (VAT) strategy is launched, using the motivational message ¡Listos para reencontrarnos! (Ready to meet again).
This material seeks to visualize the responsible way in which the ICT and the private sector have worked in recent months in the drafting of 16 health protocols to guarantee a safe trip for national tourists, who represent 20% of the country’s total tourism.
In addition, the first special offers will be included on the website www.vamosaturistear.com with promotions, added values and rate reductions of at least 25%, from participating companies throughout the country.
The Vamos a Turistear campaign goes hand in hand with two participation agreements between the ICT and the Costa Rican Banking Association (ABC) and the ICT and the Chamber of Banks and Financial Institutions of Costa Rica so that their affiliated banks can offer their clients discounts, redemption of points or differentiated payments so that the final consumer has economic options to vacation, as well as different financial instruments and service platforms at their fingertips.
“The financial system is key to overcoming the crisis due to COVID-19. On the one hand, we have worked on loan adjustments for more than ¢8 million colones, which is equivalent to 22% of national production and 35% of total credit; the activities of hotels and restaurants, transport, linked to the tourism sector have received readjustments of more than 50% of the portfolio.
“Working capital and financial products tailored to specific sectors have also been made available. Now, ABC together with the Economic Council have outlined interest-free financing of up to 12 months for consumption in national tourism with credit cards from all issuers,” explained María del Pilar Garrido Gonzalo, Minister of National Planning and Economic Policy and Coordinator of the Government Economic Council.
The announcement was made in company with ABC representative, Álvaro Saborío.
* The 27 member countries of the European Union include Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.