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Despite the pandemic, Costa Rica is still considered one of the world’s top destinations.
 - Tony Darrick Baker photo -

Costa Rica is full of optimism as life begins to return to normal
while the covid-19 pandemic lingers





















Published Friday, March 26, 2021

By Tony Darrick Baker

As other countries continue to increase their battle with the covid-19 pandemic, Costa Rica is already beginning to recover. The Philippines just imposed a surprise ban on the entry of all foreigners and even a ban on some of their own citizens in order to combat the rapid increase of pandemic cases. Also this week, Italy and France are once again announcing strict stay-at-home orders. Most European countries have banned all non-essential air travel and practically all travel from outside of Europe.

In the Americas, the Canadian airline industry has suspended travel to popular warm vacation destinations such as Mexico, the Caribbean, and Costa Rica until at least April 30, and the U.S. government has now mandated covid-19 testing for travelers to enter the United States.

Originally, this U.S. travel testing requirement was difficult due to the expense and lab result time of the RT-PCR test. The U.S. now accepts Antigen tests that are both inexpensive and typically provide results within a couple of hours. Costa Rican labs have responded by providing these tests at walk-in and drive-through locations near airports and throughout Costa Rica.

“While some people are still apprehensive to take swab tests in order to return to the U.S., there are enough people indicating that they are ready to get out of their homes and local communities to cause the airline industry to take notice,” said John Scheman, founder of Grupo Do It, a company involved in tourism and focused on developing properties in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. “We’re especially excited to see the additional flights from airlines into Liberia.”

United Airlines has just announced that they are tripling the number of flights to Costa Rica to meet their summer travel demands and that 6 of the 9 new weekly flights from Denver and New York will be going directly into Liberia, Guanacaste, Costa Rica.
 
Life in Costa Rica seems to be returning to normal, as it has already received 676,000-plus of the 4 million covid-19 vaccines ordered, and the pandemic is now showing signs of slowing.
 
“For the eighth consecutive week, we are observing a palpable decrease in the strength of the covid-19 pandemic in Costa Rica, something unprecedented to a certain extent. Since we have been hit very violently by the Coronavirus during the month of December, where the maximum peaks of the curve were almost reached, experienced in September and October,” explained Ronald Evans, an analysis expert at the Universidad Hispanoamericana.



The response to the pandemic with additional hygiene measures and customer service by Costa Rica’s airports is also helping to encourage renewed travel. For the 3rd straight year, the Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia has been awarded “Best in Latin America and the Caribbean” for customer service and this year they are also awarded for pandemic-related hygiene measures by the International Airport Council (ACI).

“The Airport Service Quality Awards (ASQ) are the highest possible recognition for airport operators around the world, and recognize excellence in customer experience,” Luis Felipe de Oliveira, CEO of ACI World said.

Costa Rica is opening up in other ways as well. There are still driving restrictions overnight and on the weekends, but weekday driving restrictions have been lifted for most of Costa Rica. San José has had vehicle-plate-based driving restrictions for years because of road congestion. Tourists in rental vehicles and people going to and from hotel bookings are typically exempt from vehicle restrictions during the day.



Outdoor tourist attractions have been opening up over the last few months across the country. Likewise, free tourist attractions operated by the Tourism Board (ICT), including the Mirador de Orosí, the Mirador de Ujarrás, and the Ruins of Ujarrás are now open. “For the ICT, it is a source of great joy to once again make these places of recreation, tradition and beauty available,” Carolina Trejos, the Tourism Board’s marketing director said.

Despite the pandemic, Costa Rica is still considered one of the world’s top destinations. International Living Magazine has recently ranked Costa Rica as the World’s Best Place to Retire. Every year, International Living creates a comprehensive Global Retirement Index that surveys hundreds of people on a variety of topics important to retirees.

The 2021 index ranks Costa Rica the third highest for healthcare and cost of health services. This high ranking is in addition to the high rankings for the ease of getting tourist visas and residence. The top rankings also survey housing availability, climate, infrastructure development, entertainment and government policies. All of this data has helped boost Costa Rica to the top ranking for retirement in 2021.

“Like everywhere in the world, the pandemic has dealt the Costa Rican economy a harsh blow and put strains on the healthcare system. Even so, the country remains a good long-term bet as we move toward a post-covid world, given its natural beauty, resilient population, and progressive vision.” writes Kathleen Evans, International Living Magazine.

These are all just a few of the many exciting reasons for optimism about life in Guanacaste, Costa Rica in 2021 and beyond.


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