Tourism arrival in Costa Rica are forecast to hit 2.32mn in 2011 before growing at an average rate of 8% until the end of our forecast period in 2015, according to a recently published report by Business Monitor International.Costa Rica receives the majority of its tourist arrivals from the Americas, with the top three source markets for visitors to the country being the US, Nicaragua and Canada. Tourism arrivals, after increasing from 1.72mn in 2006 to 2.15mn in 2008, dipped to 1.93mn in 2009, but picked up again in 2010.
Health tourism brings visitors to the country and it is an area where Costa Rica can continue to develop its infrastructure to tap further into this growing market. Already known as a destination for medical tourists, Costa Rica is now competing with newer destinations such as Puerto Rico for the millions of Americans, and other nationalities, who travel abroad for medical care. In 2010, medical tourism generated US$250mn in revenue for Costa Rica’s health services industry, according to the council for International Promotion of Costa Rica Medicine.
Doing away with the red tape of residence permits
In the same vein as health tourism, Costa Rica is making retirement communities a priority to keep visitor numbers up. The country is targeting North American pensioners and is doing away with the red tape of residence permits, especially for those in good health. Tax exemptions on real estate and vehicles are also being offered. The campaign is being run by the Costa Rica Tourism Board (Instituto Costarricense de Turismo, ICT). The Ministry of Competitiveness has already identified eight locations for retirement communities, focusing on areas with natural beauty, tourist attractions and in proximity to hospitals. Another tourism draw to Costa Rica is spa and wellbeing vacations. Costa Rica has been recognised by TripAdvisor users as one of the best places in Central and South America to enjoy spa getaways.