By: Jim Byers
Costa Rica is ready and waiting for Canadian visitors.
Costa Rica Tourism officials took part in a virtual chat with members of the media on Wednesday, highlighting not just the country’s natural beauty but their commitment to health and safety.
Tourism Minister Gustavo Segura Sancho said Costa Rica has more than 1,000 community clinics and has a first-rate health care system. He also said Costa Rica has the lowest death rate from COVID-19 in all of Latin America, with a fatality rate of 1.2%.
Costa Rica closed its borders to visitors on March 18 but has gradually been opening with strict health protocols, including temperature checks upon arrival. Visitors must fill out a health form and have travel insurance, but COVID-19 tests aren’t currently required and there are no quarantine rules in place.
Costa Rica began accepting travellers from around the world on November 1 and greeted 36,000 visitors last month, Sancho said.
Twenty seven airlines were serving Costa Rica prior to the pandemic, and 20 of those have either returned or announced they’ll begin service again, he said.
Air Canada is flying into both Liberia and San Jose from both Montreal and Toronto, Sancho said, while WestJet flies from Toronto to Liberia. Both Sunwing and Transat plan to begin flights to Costa Rica in February, he said.
Javier Pacheco, president of the Costa Rican Chamber of Hotels said 90% of the country’s hotels have re-opened, but that capacity is limited to 50% in hotel restaurants for social distancing. Hotels also have strict rules about masks and sanitizing, and have eliminated self-serve buffets. Bellboys no longer take your bags right into your room but instead leave them at the door for you. Guests also must have their temperatures taken when they arrive.
Officials from the Adventure Operators Association said all attractions also have strict protocols in place.
Gustavo Segura Sancho, Costa Rica Tourism Minister
Sancho said Costa Rica doesn’t want average tourists.
“For many years we’ve been focused on attracting the right kind of traveller,” he said. “That’s why we love Canadian travellers, because they appreciate nature and appreciate culture and appreciate what we are about.”
Sancho said 26% of Costa Rica is national park land or private nature spots, including vast tracts of rain forest and beautiful beaches.
“Thank you for trusting Costa Rica as a tourist destination,” Sancho said. “We need you. We need all the Canadians that can come here.
“We won’t hug you, but we’ll love you just the same.”
This holiday season, Visit Costa Rica is launching a campaign to celebrate and remind us of those who are essential to our lives by awarding 15 individuals with trips for two to Costa Rica in 2021.
“Since March, we’ve heard a lot about essential workers – who is essential and what is essential. Parents have served as teachers, teachers have served as private tutors and others have stepped into new roles during the pandemic. The small Central American country known for its Pura Vida lifestyle, values family and community above everything, and reminds us during these challenging times that everyone is essential to someone.”
“Visit Costa Rica is calling on travellers to nominate a person that has made a meaningful difference in their lives through the Who Is Essential to You campaign and trip giveaway. Nominations from all across North America will be accepted here for a chance to win a seven-day trip for two to Costa Rica. Participants are encouraged to share their unique stories. Submissions will close on Jan. 31, 2021 at 11:59pm EST, after which 15 lucky winners will be announced for a trip to Costa Rica in 2021.”
Who Is Essential to You – Costa Rica Trip Giveaway
Who: Residents of the United States and Canada (excluding residents of Quebec), are invited to nominate essential loved ones this holiday season
What: Story submissions of essential loved ones will be accepted here, of which 15 individuals will be selected to win a seven-day trip for two to Costa Rica in 2021 (through Dec. 31, 2021). Each trip includes roundtrip flights from the United States and Canada, accommodations, and select meals and experiences. For more information, see contest Terms & Conditions here.