The official number of international arrivals by air to Costa Rica in the first six months of 2015 was 4.4 percent higher than the same period last year, the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) reported Tuesday.
Analyzing data from the Immigration Administration, the ICT said 41,698 more travelers arrived by air this year, for a total during the six-month period of 987,801. In a projected profit analysis, the ICT said the country’s tourism sector pulled in about $1.6 billion during the period – about $161 million more than the first half of 2014.
Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) outside San José remains the country’s main air terminal, but the Daniel Oduber International Airport (LIR) in Liberia, Guanacaste, registered the highest percentage of growth in the number of air travelers during the period, at 8.5 percent. SJO airport registered a 3.2 percent increase.
Tourism Minister Mauricio Ventura said the numbers reflect positive results obtained by airlines and new route strategies, as well as more promotional efforts abroad.
“These results complement an increase in the number of flights by six airlines so far this year, as well as other efforts that are generating significant revenue for the sector,” Ventura said.
The total number of international arrivals, taking into account air, sea and land, increased by 1.7 percent. That figure excludes the arrivals of Ticos and foreign citizens with valid work permits from the Labor Ministry, the ICT stated.
The report indicates that the total figure could have been higher but was affected by a slowdown in arrivals by land and sea, which decreased by 4 and 13 percent, respectively.
The U.S. is still the main source of tourists to the country, although Mexico registered the highest percentage of growth during the period of study. The entry of travelers from Mexico on a tourist visa increased by 9 percent, while those from the U.S. increased by 4.2 percent. Canada was third, at 1.7 percent growth.
European markets with the best increases were the U.K. with 15.5 percent, Germany with 8.9 percent and France with 8.3 percent. ICT officials believe the U.K. numbers likely will continue to increase following the recent announcement of direct London-San José flights by British Airways.
The ICT also reported an increase in the average spending by travelers. Those entering at SJO on average spent $1,635 while here, while those who arrived via the northwestern province of Guanacaste spent an average of $802.
Travelers in the first half of this year stayed on average 12.4 nights – one of the highest figures in the world of travel, the ICT reported.