San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Tourism Growth Slows but Still Above World Average

Tourism grew 13 percent in the first six months of the year over the same period last year, according to statistics release by National Tourism Chamber (CANATUR). Though that’s still above the 11.7 percent growth of 2007, signs of a slowdown are beginning to show.

Taken month by month, Costa Rica looks to be losing steam, just as the financial woes in the United States, the No. 1 supplier of tourists to Costa Rica, worsen.

In April, the accumulated growth over the last 12 months was at 15.5 percent, but lowered to 13 percent in July and to 12.2 percent in August, according to CANATUR.

Similarly, tourist arrivals at the DanielOduberInternationalAirport, in the northwestern Guanacaste province city of Liberia, have slowed. Compared to the same months last year, tourist arrivals dropped 3.3 percent in June and 1.8 percent in April.

In the first three months of the year, tourist arrivals had risen 13 percent at Daniel Oduber.

The nationwide increase of 13 percent in the first half of the year, the chamber noted in a statement, is still three times the global average growth of tourists, and in air arrivals alone, Costa Rica received 102,141 more tourists than the year before.

In Central America, Costa Rica continues to post numbers much better than most of its neighbors. Tourist arrivals in Belize have dropped by 0.9 percent, while they have grown only by 6.3 percent in Guatemala and 7.1 percent in Nicaragua.

But it is Panama, the up-and-comer to the south, that looks to be leaving Costa Rica in the dust: Tourist arrivals there increased 24 percent in the first half of the year, compared to the same time last year.


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