Costa Rica is fully open with only a few restrictions but struggles to attract tourism


Costa Rica has recovered most of its air routes that were closed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, tourist traffic remains low.

Between August and December 2020, Juan Santamaria International Airport (AIJS) registered only 135,000 passengers corresponding to an 87 percent decrease in comparison to the same period in 2019. The majority of those reported in December. 

AIJS recorded 66,680 travelers last December. Barely 26% of what the airport security checkpoints screened in December 2019.

Also, Liberia International Airport, one of the four international airports the country has, reported nearly 30,000 passengers in December 2020. Most of the U.S. airlines have resumed operations at this terminal. 

The Dutch KLM and Canadian WestJet confirmed to have resumed operations on Tuesday. After this good news, Liberia Airport expects nearly 300 flights this month.

U.S. Southwest, Canadian Air Transat, German Condor and British Airways have not resumed operations yet. Their returning date is still to be announced.

Aeris, AIJS’s administration company, stressed the importance of cooperation with the Costa Rican Tourism Institute and its airlines. Along with the country’s welcoming image, the coordination has helped Costa Rica slowly recover air traffic to pre-pandemic levels.

However, travel restrictions imposed in Europe still limit the number of international tourist arrivals as well as the new travel restrictions in the U.S.

The Ministry of Health certified private laboratories to offer RT-PCR tests to tourists for around USD $100 as part of their reopening strategy.

Costa Rica has been open for tourism since Nov. 1 without quarantine or testing. In general, entry restrictions are easy to follow. 

Apart from the usual immigration requirements, visitors must complete an online Health Pass. 

They must also purchase travel insurance that covers COVID-19 medical expenses and quarantine lodging.

At the moment, the COVID-19 situation in Costa Rica is under control. So far, it has reported 182,156 coronavirus cases and 2,384 deaths. There are 39,805 active cases. 

The country has also begun the vaccination process.