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Costa Rica Ready to Receive its First 194 Tourists in 138 Days

As Costa Rica prepares to receive the first 194 foreign tourists to enter the country in 138 days, we offer them a big, fabulous pura vida welcome!

Let’s talk about some good news for once. No matter how convoluted, messy, and confusing the process has been, today is a good day for Costa Rican and Central American tourism. Today, Costa Rica becomes the first country in Central America to welcome back international tourists.

I know some people are unhappy about this. You can look at social media and see all kinds of outrage and fear over restarting Costa Rica’s most important industry. But you have to (re) start somewhere. And if we didn’t do something soon, no matter how small, there would be a real chance of there being no tourism industry left to restart. There still might not be. Gustavo Segura’s “drops of hope” still may be too small, too few and far between to offer much sustenance. But it’s a start. And we’ll take it.

So the first thing I’d like to do is – on behalf of and the Namu Travel Group – is to welcome the new tourists into our beautiful country. I’d also like to ask them to forgive the mess. We’ve been a bit busy here over the past few months and things have been crazy. You know. But we’re sure you’re still going to have a great time!

We’ve been speculating these past few days while we’ve been waiting for this most famous of Iberia flights.

How many tourists will be coming in? Will Iberia 6317 be full of returning Ticos and Costa Rican residents? Or will it be mostly tourists? What’s the feeling on the ground over there in Europe about coming to Costa Rica? At the end of the day, no-one really knew until the passenger numbers came out.

And I have to say they look quite promising. As I write this, IB6317 is a little under two hours from arrival. That means it’s somewhere over the Caribbean right now, over the Dominical Republic or around there. I’ve been on this flight a few times so I know it pretty well. Never been on it with a face mask though. But I digress.

As I was saying, the numbers look promising. According to a report this afternoon on CRHoy, Iberia have released their passenger list and we have 209 passengers in all. Of those 209, there are only 15 Costa Ricans on board. That means 194 tourists. Well, we’ll say 194 tourists. It’s probably less than that as I’m sure some passengers are Costa Rican foreign residents returning home, but it’s still a nice amount. More than I thought, I’ll be honest.

And yes, I know it’s a tiny sample. One flight from one country. But the plane could have been empty apart from returning Ticos. It remains to be seen how this tourism restart will play out, but today I’m all about positivity, baby.

CRHoy also reported that of the 194 foreigners on board, 13 or them had NOT presented a COVID-19 test.

Apparently, the ICT (Costa Rican Tourist Board) will test them for free upon arrival.

That’s also something positive to hear. I thought that anyone not presenting a clean bill of COVID health wouldn’t be allowed on the plane. Whether this is something the ICT will do on a regular basis from now on, or whether it’s because today is a special occasion, I’m not sure. I guess we’ll see later on in the week when the first Lufthansa flight arrives from Germany with the second batch of tourists in this new reality.

The Ticos and any foreign residents on board won’t need a COVID test. They’ll need to quarantine for two weeks. Maybe … just maybe … those 13 foreigners without COVID tests are residents? That would certainly explain how they managed to travel today. Vamos a ver.

And so, again, welcome to everyone coming back in today.                                                                                    

We know it’s not ideal, but if you’re coming here for the first time, you may have no idea what an important psychological step your arrival is for so many of us in this tiny country. It’s a start of a long road back to recovery and yes, in the words of Gustavo Segura, some true drops of hope for us all.

Have a good one. Try some chiliguaros. Eat some ceviche and some picadillos. And enjoy yourselves. Coronavirus or no coronavirus, you’re coming to a pretty special little country. Pura vida.

James Dyde is the editor of He lives in Escazu, Costa Rica.

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