By Jorge J. J. Martínez
Gustavo Segura, Costa Rica’s Minister of Tourism, shares a general overview of his country from his position in the public sector. He also shares his experience as a tourism entrepreneur, economist, and specialist in sustainable development.
Segura has worked in the hospitality industry for more than 24 years. He has actively participated in the associative sector during his career, both in bureaus and tourism and hotel business chambers.
Positive reopening statistics are an invitation to meet in Costa Rica
After the country closed due to the pandemic on March 6, 2020, it took four months to gradually reopen on August 1, 2020, in record time. The result was surprising: between August and October, they welcomed 15,000 international tourists, and not one of them was infected with Covid-19.
“We decided to open flights worldwide as of November 1, 2020. All the routes from the USA plus one new one are back, along with those from South America, and we have recovered five from Europe (only London is missing). The infection rate is very low, less than 0.5% of tourists,” stated Gustavo Segura.
These results are proof of the effectiveness of the destination’s medical system and biosecurity protocol management. Meeting Planners can now organize events in this Central American jewel, which also offers digital services for hybrid events, expanding the possibility of virtual assistance.
“The very nature of meetings and private business events is ideal for Costa Rica because we are boutique everywhere you look; everything is measurable. Even with social distancing, most venues allow for a capacity of 300 people. This is different from public events,” explained the Minister of Tourism.
Tourism represents sustainable development in Costa Rica, “The Sanctuary of Well-Being”
Costa Rica has adopted health and education as pillars of its social development. Thanks to this, the country is today considered a “Sanctuary of Wellness.”
“We should always highlight this is what we have done for decades in Costa Rica; we are grateful to those who made these decisions 80 years ago,” Segura pointed out.
In that regard, Gustavo considers that the pandemic provides the perfect scenario to relaunch the idea of “Only the Essentials,” a campaign that seeks to entice the North American market through the connection with nature, wellness, culture, and adventure.
Costa Rica’s distinguishing feature is that the entire country is the destination. This means the approximate 8% of GDP from Tourism and the 20% of the foreign exchange it generates can be used towards social development.
In 2017 the social progress index revealed that of the 17 cantons, the 10 with the best living conditions are eminently tourism-oriented. “To participate in Costa Rica Tourism is to participate in the development of communities and social progress,” added Segura.
Health, Education, and Environmental Care
Costa Rica has more than a thousand primary health clinics and nine national hospitals in the health sector. Its Covid-19 mortality rate is very low, and not even its hospital system has not collapsed to date.
One relevant fact in education is the 97% literacy rate of Costa Ricans, which provides trained personnel to serve tourism, including rural and community tourism.
In terms of environmental and species conservation, 26% of the country’s land area is protected in some way thanks to its Natural Protected Areas plan. Sustainable agriculture and reforestation are also on the agenda.