QCOSTARICA – The demand of Costa Ricans to go to get vaccinated against covid-19 in the United States increased strongly from Semana Santa, so much so that travel agencies predict that by the end of next July some 10,000 people will be doing so.
The estimated figure now doubles that of the 5,000 predicted in mid-April, according to data provided by members of the Costa Rican Association of Travel Agencies (ACAV).
The president of ACAV and representative of Viajes Colón, Sary Valverde, as well as Juan Oliver, general manager of World Executive Travel, and Jackeline Hernández, general manager of the agency Rutas Aéreas, agreed, separately, that this rebound in travelers to the United States Unidos is also a respite for activity.
According to Valverde, shopping centers in cities such as Dallas, Huston and Miami also perceive the largest influx of tourists, who also take the opportunity to shop, as travel agencies offer packages of two nights and three days or three nights and four days, with room for travelers to have shopping days while getting vaccinated.
However, some prefer to take a flight one day and return the next.
The three travel agencies explained they see a preponderance of family trips and that the demand increased so much that airlines adjusted fares upward in recent weeks.
The estimate is that, currently, at least 500 people leave weekly, booking their trip through travel agencies, which include visits to states such as Florida (Miami and Orlando), Texas (Dallas and Houston), Alabama, North Carolina, Arizona, New York, Alaska, Charlote, New Orleans and Atlanta.
They are states and cities that are open to vaccination tourism, with free doses in most cases and no need for being a resident.
Costa Ricans are used to traveling to Florida, specifically to Miami and Orlando, Valverde recalled. But those two destinations are being saturated by the arrival of Latin Americans for the same purpose, she warned.
Given that and the higher cost of flights to popular destinations, travelers are being recommended to choose other options, beyond Florida, such as Dallas, where there is tax-free shopping.
In general, the travel agencies say that there is a preference for closer cities (shorter trips) and direct flights from Costa Rica.
The agencies indicate that the typical vaccination tourism client is between the ages of 30 and 50. However, with the opening to vaccinate adolescents, it could increase the demand for travel, especially as of the last week of June, when private schools in Costa Rica go on vacation.
The ACAV also foresees charters as a possibility. Currently, this is not yet possible, all trips are being booked on commercial flights.
What is vaccine tourism
Combining a holiday with medical or cosmetic surgery is not uncommon, but the COVID-19 pandemic has given birth to a new kind of tourism.
Vaccine tourism, where travelers go abroad to receive the much-coveted COVID-19 jab.
Is is legal to travel to another country to get vaccinated? Are tour operators allowed to offer these types of trips?
At present, there are no official arrangements in place to ensure foreign visitors get the vaccination they have traveled for.
Some states in the United States, are making it clear that vaccine tourists are welcome.
How ethical is vaccine tourism? Vaccine tourism could contribute towards the common goal of ending the coronavirus pandemic.