San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rica tourism sets new record with 2.6 million visitors in 2015

Costa Rica tourism cruised past another milestone in 2015, attracting a record-breaking 2.66 million tourists from around the world, Tourism Minister Mauricio Ventura said Friday. That means that the equivalent of more than half the population of the entire country of Costa Rica — 4.8 million people — visited the country last year.

Continued growth from the U.S., Costa Rica’s most important tourism market, and the expansion of new airlines were among the top reasons for the continued growth, Ventura told reporters. The increasing number of tourists also helped the tourism sector swell by 9 percent in 2015, outpacing the national GDP of 2.8 percent by threefold. Ventura called the tourism sector a “motor for development” in Costa Rica, providing jobs and growing the country’s international brand.

According to figures from the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT), the tourism sector was responsible for more than $2.8 billion in revenue during 2015 and employs roughly 600,000 people in Costa Rica through direct and indirect employment. That’s a $246 million increase over 2014, Ventura said.

The Kratochvil family — the one millionth U.S. tourist to visit Costa Rica in 2015 — receives a big welcome parade that included masquerades and traditional cimarrona music.

Alberto Font/The Tico Times

The United States is by far the largest single market for tourists to Costa Rica, totaling roughly 40 percent of all visitors with 1,077,044 U.S. visitors in 2015. The average U.S. visitor to Costa Rica stays for just over 11 days and spends an average of $1,340, according to ICT figures.

Nearly 400,000 tourists from Europe visited last year, including an important increase in British tourists. Thanks to new direct flights from British Airways, there was a 20 percent increase in tourists from the United Kingdom, the second largest percentage increase per country after China. China still has a relatively small number of visitors but saw 29 percent growth in 2015 over 2014.

Air traffic accounts for the largest amount of visitors. Thanks to new routes from British Airways, Southwest Airlines and other airlines, air traffic to Costa Rica grew 8 percent.

Ventura said visitors cite Tico hospitality as one of their favorite things about visiting Costa Rica. The worst? The quality of the roads. But bumpy roads didn’t kept away the 30 percent of tourists who came back to Costa Rica for at least a second visit, according to ICT figures.

To maintain those numbers, Ventura said that ICT was working to update its sustainable tourism certification program and to expand cultural offerings for tourists beyond Costa Rica’s world-famous wildlife and natural beauty.

“It’s like the Olympics every day” when it comes to competing for tourist dollars, Ventura said. “We compete every day with the best in the world. Not just from Nicaragua and Panama but Vietnam, New Zealand, the world.”

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Douglas Williams

I spent 11 days in Costa Rica in December 2015. It is a beautiful country, with wonderful beaches, mountains, lakes, forest, jungle, wildlife, volcanos, etc. Like other Central American countries the people there were somewhat shy, yet friendly. Unlike other Central American countries, Costa Rica is expensive, which surprised me. Everything in Costa Rica is as expensive as in the U.S. with food and gasoline being even MORE expensive in Costa Rica. Costa Rica has no military and appears to have only a token police force, which has served the country well until recent years. Crime is on the rise in Costa Rica. A female American aid worker, a Dutch couple and several environmentalists have recently been murdered in Costa Rica.

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Ginger Morris

What hole do you live in the USA where their is NO CRIME???? Costa Rica still has less crime than the USA and most if not all of South America. Where is there NO Crime Please????

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Yea BUT, How many of those said tourist were Cuban and Syrian refugees?

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Ginger Morris

So if they were Cubans does that mean their Dollar does not count? They came with money and the towns they were in HAD a BOOST with their economy. So what is your point???

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Ginger Morris

What country is not MORE expensive on some things? I was just in 12 South American countries and they are cheap on some things and very Expensive on others.
Here in C.R. I pay 75 cents for a Pineapple. In the USA I pay $5.00. I pay $1.10 for an apple in the USA here .60 cents. In the USA I pay $15 an hour for a cleaning lady, Here $2.50 an hour.

So at the end no place is CHEAP and if it is you have security issues. So is it Cheap you want or Beauty and a Healthy life stlye?

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My third winter in Costa Rica. Probably my last. Crazy expensive here. $7 shaving cream, $15 movies and $10 six packs of very ordinary beer. Feel bad for locals whose average income is only $12,000 a year. No wonder crime is rising.

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