What’s new in Costa Rica?
Being recently awarded the “Most Desirable Country for Nature & Wildlife” in the Wanderlust Reader Travel Awards, Costa Rica is looking forward to welcoming visitors in 2024.
Costa Rica will invest $4.5 million across 7 national parks
Costa Rica will invest $4.5 million (around £3.7 million) over the next three years to improve tourism facilities and infrastructure across 7 key national parks. This investment aims to improve visitor experiences and promote sustainable tourism practices. The funding will be used to develop new trails, upgrade visitor centres and implement conservation initiatives. The 7 parks benefiting from the funds will be: Manuel Antonio, Tenorio Volcano, Guayabo National Monument, Carara, Arenal Volcano, Irazu in the Prusia sector, and Los Quetzales National Park. These were selected based on high visitor numbers throughout the year. By investing in these priority upgrades, Costa Rica aims to enhance the visitor experience while also ensuring the long-term preservation of the country’s rich biodiversity.
Collaborative efforts reaping rewards for the Scarlet Macaw and the wider ecological landscape
Conservation of Costa Rica’s eclectic avian life has reached promising new levels. Boasting 6.5% of the world’s biodiversity, Costa Rica continues to stalwart the preservation of its varied wildlife. In 2023, a total of 2,121 Scarlet Macaws have been identified, a sharp rise from 978 counted in 2020. Leading the way, the Research Programme at La Cangreja National Park partnered with a group of experts, ornithologists and local enthusiasts across Costa Rica, and is encouraged by the improvement. Conservation authorities indicated that ‘by focusing conservation efforts on the macaw, we indirectly ensure the protection of numerous other species sharing its habitat, which plays a pivotal role in ecotourism, attracting nature enthusiasts’. This is a key example of the rewards of collaborative and effective measures, and how Costa Rica put the environment and wildlife first.
Costa Rica extends tourist visas to 180 days
The Costa Rican government has extended the maximum stay period for foreign tourists visiting on a tourist visa, from 90 days to 180 days. The new regulation, which came into effect in September 2023, applies to passport holders from countries that are visa-exempt, including most European nations, the US and Canada. In addition to leisure visitors, the 180-day stay period aims to make Costa Rica more attractive for digital nomads. Previously, digital nomads could only remain for 90 days before requiring a visa. Now, they can stay for up to half a year on a tourist visa before needing to pursue other visa options. The National Chamber of Tourism (CANATUR) and the Costa Rican government hope the extension will attract young professionals to the destination, allowing visitors more time to explore Costa Rica’s abundance of natural wonders and embrace the world-famous “pura vida” lifestyle. This decision intends to position Costa Rica as the top destination for the location independent worker; hoping to boost the nation’s cultural footprint and way of life amongst both professionals and longer staying visitors. Tourism represents over 8% of Costa Rica’s GDP.
New luxury hotels coming to Costa Rica’s Guanacaste
Costa Rica’s Guanacaste region, famous for its pristine beaches, national parks and dry tropical climate, will see a variety of new luxury hotels opening throughout 2024. These include the luxury One&Only Papagayo (161 rooms); Peninsula Papagayo (109 rooms); Waldorf Astoria Residences Guanacaste (197 rooms); and Hampton by Hilton Guanacaste Airport (100 rooms). The new hotels will provide visitors the opportunity to experience the north-western region of Guanacaste which, as well as famous for its beaches and climate, is well known for its rich cultural heritage and vibrant festivals.
Beyond Guanacaste, luxury retreat, Our Habitas Santa Teresa, in Puntarenas province, is opening on 29 December 2023. Its low impact, earth-inspired 45 rooms will nestle on the border of dense forest and the famous Santa Teresa’s beach, known for its world class surf break and abundant marine life.
Refreshed brochures launched by the Costa Rica Tourism Board
From September this year, visitors can have access to fresh and updated versions of Costa Rica’s visitor’s brochures. These include recommendations for museums, arts and culture, wildlife spotting, national parks, surfing, hiking and even bus schedules. Following rigorous and tailored research, the 45 new brochures promise a mix of up and coming escapades across Costa Rica whilst continuing to pay homage to the traditional sites, bringing travellers a fresh and growing perspective of the wonders of the country. The new brochures are primarily digital and are available for download on the tourist board’s website.