As Costa Rica announces that it’s opening its borders to all 50 US states at last, we thank and pay tribute to tourism minister Gustavo Segura for his work in making it happen.
Well it’s been a long time coming but finally – finally – we have a sensible decision regarding Costa Rica‘s entry policy for Americans.
Instead of the drip drip drip of various states we’ve become used to over the past few weeks, today Tourism Minister Gustavo Segura announced that from November 1, residents of ALL 50 US states will be able to travel to Costa Rica.
Before that, from October 15, Texas, Florida, and Georgia will be allowed to enter.
Speaking at today’s daily COVID briefing, Segura said that opening up rest of the United States was to help reactivate the economy and generate employment.
This is great news. It marks a turning point in the recovery of Costa Rica’s largest and most important industry sector.
BREAKING: Costa Rica is reopening to tourism from the entire United States on November 1: https://t.co/phI0rNhjZH
— The Tico Times (@TheTicoTimes) October 2, 2020
Credit has to go to Gustavo Segura who’s had a baptism of fire since taking over as tourism minister in early July.
He took over during the height of Costa Rica’s border closure. No-one was allowed in back then, although Costa Rica had just announced its limited August 1 reopening.
Segura presided over that reopening, fighting strong opposition from many quarters. It must have felt like a thankless task.
Letting in Europeans, Canadians, and some other countries was never going to revive tourism. It was never bringing back desperately-needed jobs to Costa Rica’s coastal and rural communities.
It was sticking plaster on a gaping wound, but it was a start.
The country needed to allow US tourists back in and Segura knew it.
Of the 3.1 million tourists who visited Costa Rica in 2019, over 1.3 million came from the United States. Europeans and Canadians didn’t even come close.
Any serious talk about saving Costa Rica’s shattered tourism industry needed to include allowing Americans back in.
Costa Rica registers significant increase in tourist visits in 2019: https://t.co/RhIFW09egD
— The Tico Times (@TheTicoTimes) February 6, 2020
So Costa Rica began allowing residents of certain states, based on their COVID performances, to enter as tourists from September 1. It started with six states in the northeast who had flattened their COVID curves.
Over the succeeding weeks, Segura added more states. Every addition felt stranger and stranger as Costa Rica’s own COVID cases increased. It seemed ludicrous to ban states with lower infection rates than Costa Rica’s on the basis that they weren’t controlling the virus.
To that end, it made sense to open up the whole of the United States and simplify things.
We’ve been calling for Costa Rica to simplify things since they announced the border reopening in June and the limited US return in August. On occasion we’ve been critical as we watched other countries open up in a simpler, less confusing way.
But we’ve always supported Gustavo Segura and never doubted his efforts on behalf of Costa Rica’s tourist community. And we’ll always throw support and praise to anyone who deserves it.
We watched him hit roadblocks over driving regulations to hotels, INS insurance, and other headaches. He always ended up pulling through for the tourist community. Getting all 50 states allowed in now is his biggest coup yet.
So thanks so much, Minister Segura, for your work in opening up Costa Rica again to all Americans.
This move is the best thing we can do as a country to heal our shattered economy and bring hope back to the hundreds of thousands of people left destitute in 2020.
There’s still a global economic crisis going on, and it’ll be a while before things get back to normal. But at least we’re no longer stepping in the way of our own progress and that’s something to be grateful for.
James Dyde is the editor of centralamerica.com. He lives in Escazu, Costa Rica.