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Costa Rican Tourism Seduces European Market; Intensifies Efforts In North America

The strategies established by Costa Rica to attract European tourism are reflected in the increase of international arrivals and the attraction of airlines.

Costa Rica now had eight direct flights by European airlines: Iberia from Spain; British Airways and Thomson Airways from the U.K.; Condor from Germany; Air France from France; Edelweiss from Switzerland. KLM from the Netherlands is set to resume flights on October 31 after more than a decade of absence in the country, and Lufthansa from Germany will begin flights next year.

During the first half of 2017, visitors from Europe showed steady growth of international arrivals (8.4% by air and a 6% increase by all routes to the country), according to data provided by the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería (DGME) – Costa Rica’s immigration service – and analyzed by the Instituto Costarircense de Turismo (ICT) – Costa Rican Tourism Board.

The Minister of Tourism and head of the ICT, Mauricio Ventura, explained that this change reflects the work done by the ICT in strengthening the promotion in Europe and reducing the dependence on North American (mainly U.S.) tourists.

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“Historically we have depended on the United States as a natural market, and the efforts of attracting new airlines, market intelligence, promotion, publicity and public relations were focused on this country. The story has changed because it is necessary that Costa Rica takes advantage of its image to reinforce its positioning in Europe as a huge potential market”, Ventura explained.

The majority of European tourists coming in the country originate from France with a total of 35,759 arrivals by air, followed by the United Kingdom with 35,759, and Germany, with 27,856.

Woman enjoying the tropical rain on the beach

Reducing dependency

In addition to the reinforcement of the European market, Costa Rica intensifies its efforts to strengthen its position throughout North America. Thus, during the first half of 2017, there was a 1.9% decrease in the number of arrivals of Americans by all ports, which is expected given the historical behavior that has occurred in that market in the election season. On the other hand, Canada presented a growth by air arrivals of 13.2% and Mexico showed an increase of 11% in the same period.

Costa Rica, in June, launched a new advertising campaign called “Essential Costa Rica. My Choice, Naturally”, a partnership established by the Costa Rican Tourism Board with the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), CNN International and CNN Task, a task force of experts in brands and international tourism.

As part of this alliance, a campaign was developed in five markets: England, France, Mexico, the United States and Canada, which were chosen as being of great relevance for Costa Rica, as these countries account for the largest number of international arrivals to the country, the existing air connections and the need to strengthen the positioning in those markets, mainly North America’s.

Certainly, this diversification does not imply the displacement of the United States, our natural market and the major issuer of tourists. On the contrary, we continue to strengthen the different actions, but now, knowing that we have the supply, quality and air connections to diversify the markets and shorten the distances with destinations of great potential for Costa Rica that were not being used, as the case of Europe,” Ventura explained.

Air arrivals increased by 5%.

During the first half of the year, the country registered a growth of 5% by air, for a total of 1,211,064. In addition, 1,634,137 international arrivals were registered by all ports, which represented a growth of 2.8%, compared to the first half of the previous year.

“Tourism is an industry in constant movement; Therefore, we continue to assume the challenges with strategic actions that promote the sustainability of our sector and working hard, in order to maintain and improve our positioning as a consolidated destination in terms of tourism,” Ventura concluded.

Report with notes from Tamarindo News; ICT; and agencies