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Analysis Of Costa Rica Travel Market

Costa Rica tourism report

Jan 04, 2010

After increasing from 2.06mn in 2006 to 2.29mn in 2007, the report expects arrivals to have increased to 2.51mn in 2008 before dipping down to 2.29mn in 2009. Arrival numbers are forecast to tick up again in 2010, and to grow to 3.5mn in 2014, at the end of our forecast period. The majority of tourists visit Costa Rica during the peak season (January-May) and come from the Americas. Arrivals from the country's three most important source markets - the US, Nicaragua and Canada - increased steadily during 2004 to 2007.

However, looking at the inbound tourism data by region, although 2008 continued to trend upwards in North America and Latin America, the report is forecasting arrivals numbers from both regions to decrease by 9.45% and 8.60%, respectively, in 2009. The next most important source markets in terms of arrivals are, in order, Panama, Mexico and Spain.

The main growth drivers for the industry are ecotourism and health tourism. Costa Rica has 32 national parks, eight biological reserves, 13 forest reserves and 51 wildlife refuges. The industry is estimated to suffer slightly in 2009 due to the ongoing recession, particularly in the US, and the H1N1 virus (swine flu), however it is forecast to see relatively quick turnaround beginning in 2010. The continued expansion of the Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport in the north and the growing amount of chartered flights from Europe all have the potential to drive growth in the market. Furthermore, the planned development of the Caribbean province, looks set to bring more tourists to this less-developed Costa Rican province. Indeed, already the province's port has served as the finish line for the Transat Jacques Vabre sailboat race in 2009 and the race is scheduled to finish there in 2011, 2013 and 2015 as well. The port has also been added as a port of call in 2010 to two luxury cruise liners' schedules.

Costa Rica's tourism industry is a major contributor to the economy, accounting for about 7.8% of GDP in direct terms in 2008 and nearly 3% of total employment in 2006 - 49,000 individuals - according to data from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). However, the industry's contribution to GDP is forecast to steadily decline, from 7.1% in 2009 to just 4.6% in 2014. Collective government expenditure on tourism was an estimated US$29.7mn in 2008, a 4% increase year-on-year (y-o-y). Collective government expenditure is forecast to slump slightly in 2009 to 27.9mn, bouncing back to 30.0mn in 2011. Expenditure is then forecast to rise to 35.5mn by the end of the forecast period in 2014. The government has proposed a tax on inbound airfares. The legislation, which has yet to pass in the Assembly, requests the addition of a fee of US$15 to all airfares, to replace the current 3% hotel tax. Part of the revenue from the tax, which is expected to be more than US$80mn a year, will fund some activities of Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (Costa Rican Tourism Board, ICT), including marketing, promotion and planning. The change in taxation came about due to the increasing amount of condominium and other private rentals that were not included under the umbrella of the hotel tax. New hotel developments are ongoing in the country, with major international companies including Intercontinental Hotels Group, Marriott Hotels & Resorts and Barceló constructing hotels near the beaches and in urban centres.

Costa Rica tourism report
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