May 3. Costa Rica’s internationally renowned green escapes are likely to suffer through a second year of costly tourist hesitancy as the spread of the pandemic intensifies in the Central American nation, further battering the key travel sector.
Amid an April surge of COVID-19 infections, hospital beds are scarce in the tropical country. Its infection rate last week surpassed even tragedy-struck India and Brazil, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Tourism Minister Gustavo Segura acknowledged a worsening scenario: “We trust we’ll be able to control the situation for our population soon, but we can’t deny that some people will decide to postpone visits,” he told Reuters, though he stressed he did not have official figures on cancellations.
He argued the country’s famed eco-tourism naturally promotes outdoor social distancing and pitched the travel sector’s high standards for hygiene. To bolster his point, the minister pointed to official data for the first four months of the year showing that less than 1% of tourists tested positive for COVID-19 as they exited the country.
Even so, the U.S. government included Costa Rica in its sweeping new travel advisory, on April 20, citing a “very high level” of infections. Local authorities responded by ordering new restrictions on activities and some businesses during the first week of May, but at the same time exempting hotels, beaches as well as most national parks in the hopes of nudging reluctant travelers.