Tourism is Costa Rica’s largest source of income. It is logical that in 2020, with the pandemic, tourism has declined by almost 70%. It was a very difficult time because before covid-19, the tourism sector generated 600,000 jobs and welcomed millions of tourists throughout the year. But what was the situation of tourism in 2022, did the country manage to recover?

New trends

Since tourism was one of the sectors hardest hit by the covid-19 pandemic, new trends were born in 2021 to boost tourism activities again: the increase in frequencies, the recovery of all airlines and the arrival of new ones such as Iberojet and Frontier. Thus, during this year, 1,300,000 tourists arrived in the country, recovering 42.8% of the visits in relation to the previous year. In fact, more than 90% of the tourists arrived to Costa Rica by air. 

It is then 2021 a year of reactivation of the tourism sector as jobs and the economy recovered, always maintaining the sanitary protocols to ensure a safe and healthy visit. Thus, 2022 was a promising year for tourism. 

Tourism in 2022

During the first semester of 2022, Costa Rica received a little more than 1,200,000 tourists, which corresponds to 71% of visits in 2019 during that same semester. Likewise, the Minister of Tourism, William Rodriguez, explained that they were going to dedicate themselves to reach the levels of tourist visits of 2019 by the end of 2023 and that they expected between 2.4 and 2.5 million tourists by the end of 2022, in order to get closer to the 3 million visitors that Costa Rica welcomed before the pandemic. 

In addition, the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT) presented the National Tourism Plan for the period 2022-2027, which contains three main objectives to boost tourism: to promote resilient tourism activity that makes sustainable use of tourism and cultural heritage, to promote the distribution of demand in Costa Rica’s 32 Tourism Development Centers to continue improving the quality of life of the communities in the different regions, and to maintain tourism as the main driver of the Costa Rican economy.

Thus, the strategies to achieve these objectives are: 

  • Adopt innovative, sustainable and inclusive practices to promote the efficient use of tourism resources
  • Improve product offerings focused on diversification, innovation, inclusion, sustainability and quality, to generate greater added value for tourists
  • Increase the interest of the main international tourist issuing markets and the domestic tourist market as a differentiated destination
  • Strengthen inclusive productive linkages by promoting productivity and competitiveness of enterprises
  • Generate a good perception of the tourism experience by visitors
  • To ensure that tourism leads an effective inter-institutional coordination, promoting initiatives that have an impact on the sector

Towards the future

At the beginning of 2022, the Central Bank informed that it would be only until 2024 that Costa Rica could reach and surpass the revenues of the tourism sector of 2019, before the pandemic. Despite the intuitions and surveys, the World Tourism Organization warns that the future behavior of the tourism activity remains uncertain, as it may be affected by the vaccination processes of the different countries or the implementation of sanitary restrictions due to the emergence of new diseases.

Top 7 Tourist Attractions of 2022

So, the main tourist attractions in Costa Rica in 2022 were:

  • Monteverde Biological Cloud Forest
  • Manuel Antonio National Park
  • Tamarindo Beach
  • Tenorio Volcano National Park: Rio Celeste Waterfall and Hot Springs
  • Poas Volcano
  • Arenal Volcano National Park
  • Marino Ballena National Park