Costa Rica Airport Reopening Announced for August 1

After weeks of speculation, Costa Rica finally announces its long-awaited airport reopenings. 

Costa Rica will open its airports to international tourists again on August 1, according to health minister Daniel Salas.

The Costa Rican government has been under increasing pressure to announce a reopening date for international tourism.

On Wednesday, President Alvarado said that a definite date would come this week. Sure enough, true to their word, today they delivered a date, August 1. What they did not deliver were any real details of how it would work, who they would allow back in, and under what guidelines.

It kind of feels that they announced the date today because they had to say something.

Still, the news comes as a massive boost and ray of hope to a tourism industry on its knees. Whatever details are forthcoming, they’re something to hang a hat on for the hundreds of thousands of unemployed Ticos in decimated beach and rural communities. 

Salas has been hinting at how Costa Rica would open up again for a few days now. He’s said that Costa Rica would reopen to countries that have managed to get their COVID infection rates under control. There’s been a lot of talk about allowing travel from Canada, the UK, and the EU. There’s also been talk about sharing a “travel bubble” with Australia and New Zealand.

The overwhelming speculation is that the United States will not be among the first countries allowed in. It’s important to note though, that nobody has actually stated this one way or another. Just the usual talking heads on social media. It seems inconceivable that they won’t let US tourists in, seeing as they represents the majority of visitors to Costa Rica. We’ll have to see.

In contrast to Costa Rica’s light-on-detail announcement today, fellow Central American country Belize announced their August 15 reopening yesterday with a bunch of details about how they would do it.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow presented a detailed plan for tourists returning to Belize, from before they arrived in the country, to airport and in-flight protocols, arrival in Belize, and in-country experience.

Costa Rica tourism insiders would do well to read Belize’s guidelines and expect something along the same lines to happen here. One notable factor is that Belize has not banned citizens of any country from entering, including the United States. Everyone is welcome as long as they follow the protocols. Is that something Costa Rica could look at?

Costa Rica now has just over a month to put its guidelines in place.

The hope is that it’ll take a lot less time than that for the government to publicize their guidelines to avoid even more confidence-sapping speculation . In an ideal world, we’ll see the guidelines published within the next few days.

It’s great that Costa Rica has announced. Now let’s see how they’re going to play this so we can really start moving forward.

Central American countries who’ve announced “firm” border openings:

Costa Rica: August 1
El Salvador: August 6
Belize: August 15

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