Costa Rica Proposes Creating Regional ‘Tourism Corridor’ As Visitor Numbers Recover

The proposal by President Rodrigo Chaves is for complementary destinations offering value-added tourism services

Cosa Rica's President Rodrigo Chaves has proposed the creation of a tourism corridor for his country, Panama and the Dominican Republic to offer an integral experience and recover pre-pandemic visitor numbers. Photo: Cortesía ICT
December 13, 2022 | 03:09 PM

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San José — In the framework of the Summit of the Central American Integration System (Sica), held in the city of Santiago de los Caballeros, in the Dominican Republic, Costa Rican President Rodrigo Chaves highlighted that his country, Panama and the Dominican Republic offer multiple attractions, as well as security, for tourists, and particularly in the area of sustainable tourism.

The idea would be to attract more European, Canadian and US travelers to the region, but also from all over the world, with the aim of offering integral and attractive tourism packages, and Chaves highlighted the importance of the so-called Alliance for Development in Democracy, which includes the Dominican Republic, Panama, Costa Rica and Ecuador, as an example of the region’s integration.

According to the Costa Rican president, the four countries enjoy freedom of expression and stable democracy, in addition to being good hosts, and where the tourism industry has managed to attract foreign direct investment, create free trade zones, and take advantage of nearshoring.

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Tourism arrival numbers recovering

Costa Rican tourism entrepreneurs recently expressed their confidence that next year’s visitor numbers will increase after having carried out several roadshows in the US, Canada and Europe to promote the country.

According to official data, between January and September 2022, 47,024 German, 41,353 Spanish, 21,932 Dutch and 40,835 Mexican tourists visited Costa Rica, figures that are close to matching those of 2019, prior to the pandemic.

Tourism is one of the main drivers of the Costa Rican economy. Before the health crisis, the country of 5.1 million people received just over three million tourists each year, and tourism employed some 400,000 people.

During 2022, the figures have recovered and are close to matching those of prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the ICT.

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In the case of the Dominican Republic, the Caribbean country received 7.5 million tourists between January and November of this year, almost three million more than in the same period of 2021, a record for the country, the Ministry of Tourism reported.

Almost 6.5 million tourists arrived by air, while more than one million arrived via cruise ships, and which represent “extraordinary” record figures, said Tourism Minister David Collado.

The Caribbean nation, which has tourism as its main source of foreign exchange, received 571,354 tourists in November by air, that is, 50,000 more than those who arrived in the same month last year, according to the same data.

A growth in the arrival of cruise passengers was also reported, with 195,270 visitors in November, compared to 80,083 in the same month of 2021.

Panama is not far behind, as of last September, the Panama Tourism Authority (ATP) said it expected to close 2022 with the arrival of 1.8 million tourists, while trying to recover the industry’s pre-pandemic figures.

The tourism industry was one of the hardest hit by the pandemic, which caused a 17.9% drop in GDP in 2020, a year in which Panama received 70% fewer visitors than in 2019.