Costa Rica expects to welcome between 2.3 and 2.5 million tourists by air in 2023, thereby breaking previous tourist records according to projections from the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT).
This historic number would exceed the 2,117,960 tourists who arrived in 2022 and would surpass pre-pandemic levels observed in 2018 and 2019. Tourism is a vital part of Costa Rica’s economy, and these projections signal a strong rebound in international travel.
This impressive growth is reflected in the statistics for the first nine months of 2023. A total of 1,848,208 tourists entered the country by air between January and September, an increase of 16.4% compared to the same period the previous year.
« We visited Costa Rica last year and are going back again this year. The whole family loved the Osa Peninsula area. This year, we plan to visit the Caribbean coast, specifically Puerto Viejo, and then end our trip at the Arenal volcano. »David Stevens, Toronto Ontario
In September, 111,696 visitors arrived through the two international airports, Juan Santamaría and Daniel Oduber. Traffic through Juan Santamaría, the country’s main gateway, increased by 9.6%, with 86,140 passengers.
The vast majority of tourists still come from North America. Between January and September, Costa Rica welcomed 1.3 million visitors from the region, an increase of 18.2% from 2022. The United States remains the top source market with 1,095,135 travelers. Canada and Mexico follow.
« These exceptional numbers bring us closer to recovering pre-pandemic levels. It demonstrates Costa Rica’s commitment to fostering progress in all regions of the country. »
William Rodríguez – Minister of Tourism of Costa Rica
Europe is another growth sector this year, with 319,691 visitors from the continent in the first three quarters, an increase of 4.9% compared to the previous year. France and Germany lead the European countries with double-digit growth of 11.3% and 13.7% respectively.
ICT revealed that 90% of all tourists arrive in Costa Rica by plane, highlighting the importance of the two international airports. Juan Santamaría Airport facilitated the entry of 69% of visitors so far in 2023.
Costa Rica continues to captivate tourists with its natural beauty, beaches, adventure activities, culture, and cuisine. With an overall satisfaction score of 87 out of 100, future prospects for tourism remain favorable.
The tourism boom also creates valuable jobs. According to the National Institute of Statistics and Census, around 154,930 people worked in tourism-related jobs in the first half of 2023, consistent with the 7% tourism represents in the total workforce over the last decade.
While Costa Rica benefits from this influx of foreign visitors, Costa Ricans are also traveling abroad more than ever. From January to September, 881,760 Costa Ricans traveled abroad, an increase of 38% compared to 2022. The most popular destinations were the United States and Mexico.