Costa Rica’s Tourism Board was in Toronto with partners yesterday evening to highlight the diverse array of experiences, travel styles and accommodation types on offer in the Central American country, all of which contribute handsomely to what the organization has billed as ‘Essential Costa Rica.’
For Luanna Gonzalez, public relations executive, Costa Rica Tourism Board, the event provided an invaluable opportunity for representatives to liaise with the Canadian travel community and develop vital contacts with tour operators and travel agents based in Canada.
“The idea is that people from different companies [in Costa Rica]… can have this personal contact with people in Toronto, and they can see a lot of the options to Costa Rica having people in Toronto,” she told PAX.
The importance of Canadian travel to Costa Rica is evident; Gonzalez said that the North American market is responsible for 50 per cent of tourism to the country – with an encouraging increase also noted in the number of Canadians visiting Costa Rica this year, particularly from the west.
“Canada grew 13 per cent this year,” Gonzalez commented, “especially from Calgary. Calgary, right now, is very important for us, because they bring a lot of tourists to Costa Rica. We [also] have new flights directly from Canada to Costa Rica.”
‘A pioneer of tourism’
Throughout the evening, travel professionals learned about what makes Costa Rica a unique and appealing tourist destination, with a comprehensive presentation outlining its many attractions for Canadian travellers – including its status as a leading wellness destination, consistently pleasant year-round weather, and a strong commitment to sustainability and clean energy that has seen it labelled a ‘pioneer of tourism in Central America and Ecotourism in Latin America.’
With 32 national parks, 51 wildlife refuges, 13 forest reserves and eight biological reserves, the country is renowned for its range of nature-oriented experiences; indeed, its commitment to responsible tourism, with 26 per cent of the country designated as protected territory, saw Costa Rica awarded the Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST) by the United Nations.
It’s worth noting, too, that Costa Rica boasts 920 species of birds – more than the U.S. and Canada put together – with whale migration and turtle nesting also extremely prevalent.
Packed into Costa Rica’s 51,100 sq. km. is a broad range of accommodation, with something for all budgets. Rural tourism, for instance, averages at $15 per night, rising to $60 on the next rung, $140 for midscale tourism, and $400 for upscale tourism.
Something for everyone
All travel tastes are catered to in Costa Rica – from the bustling heart of downtown San Jose, to the Arenal Volcano and hot springs in its Northern Plains region, to the plethora of experiences on offer along the country’s divergent Caribbean and Pacific coasts.
Tenorio Volcano National Park, meanwhile, located near the north of the country, includes the memorable Rio Celeste; it’s so blue that popular legend says God washed his brush in the water there after painting the sky.
Culture, history and art come to the fore in the artisan town of Sarchí, near San José, while the La Paz waterfall (also located in Alajuela province) offering hiking trails and a wide variety of nature and wildlife experiences.
Thankfully, Costa Rica was also spared the worst effects of the recent hurricanes that ravaged the Caribbean, with Gonzalez saying that despite some damage in smaller cities, the country’s tourism infrastructure had remained largely unaffected.
“Right now, we don’t have problems,” she said. “We had problems in some cities, small cities, but not in the touristic cities. We don’t have any problem where [tourists] go.”
After wrapping up its Toronto stop, the Costa Rican representatives land in Montreal today (Oct. 18) for the next step on their Canadian itinerary.