Costa Rica is aiming to grow its tourism by 6% per year globally, its tourism minister has revealed.
María Amalia Revelo Raventós told TTG@WTM she hoped to boost visitor numbers by “increasing operations in terms of flights” and widening the choice of hotels for visitors.
Raventós said tourism numbers from Europe were up by 6.1% year-on-year in 2018, with 339,446 visitors from January to August this year.
The US, which is Costa Rica’s number one market in terms of visitor arrivals, grew to 1,160,000, up by 5.1% year-on-year. Canada, the country’s second largest tourist market, also grew by 5.1% in 2018, with 154,464 visitors from January to August.
Raventós said in particular she saw growth in the European market as “a great opportunity”, adding that new flight capacity in recent years from the likes of British Airways, Lufthansa and KLM had allowed Costa Rica “to have a bigger market share in a high end market.”
She added that European visitors tended to be more adventurous, visiting numerous locations within the country and staying an average of 17 nights.
Driving rural tourism will be a key focus for the destination next year, with the tourist board planning to work with small and medium-sized hotels “to open new areas for tourism” and avoid overcrowding, said Raventos.
She added the tourist board would work closely with the private sector and local government bodies to develop stronger tourism ties in lesser-visited parts of the country.
The country has invested $210 million in hotel development since March 2018. New hotels due to open in the next few months include the 150-room W Hotel Costa Rica Reserva Conchal, which will open in November, and the Hard Rock Hotel Papagyo, which opens in early 2019 and will be the first Hard Rock Hotel outside the US.