A white-sand tropical paradise with breathtaking natural beauty and welcoming locals, it’s no secret that Costa Rica has all the ingredients for a perfect vacation. Over the past five years online hotel reservations in Costa Rica have soared by 46% according to industry-leading reservations platform SiteMinder. Speaking at this year’s WTM Latin America in São Paulo,
SiteMinder explained that by 2022 the total value of online reservations is expected to reach $115 million thanks to four key trends.
Let’s dive into these reasons why brand Costa Rica is looking stronger than ever and why country’s hoteliers have every reason to look forward to a bumper 2018!
- New Flights and More Seats Equal More Tourists
According to the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT) more than 96,000 additional plane seats have been generated since the beginning of this year. These have been created by a combination of increased flight frequencies and new flights.
The price is also right for many travellers on a budget. Low-cost airlines like Volaris and Veca are growing in popularity in Costa Rica. The record number of tourists arrivals in 2017 was largely due to this new development as well as the addition of new flights from Europe to Costa Rica with Air France and KLM. According to the Costa Rica Tourism Board, nearly 3 million international tourists visited the country in 2018 with visitors from North America constituting around half of the total arrivals.
- Don’t Forget to Pack your Suit!
More visitors to Costa Rica will be packing suits alongside their flip-flops over the next few years. Business tourism is expected to grow dramatically over the next few years thanks to the investment of $35 million to open a National Convention Centre which has capacity for up to 6,500 delegates. A large percentage of this additional business travel will convert into conventional tourism as business travellers chose to enjoy a personal vacation and make the most of their precious downtime.
The Costa Rican Tourism Board has also created an “Ambassador Program” which aims to bring in US$1.3 billion in five years through 950 conferences and conventions. The main target markets for this growing sector are Latin America and the United States.
- Airport Enhancements
It’s no fun when you arrive for your amazing vacation and the airport’s a let down. Anticipating the needs of growing number of tourists, improvements are being made at both the Juan Santamaría Airport (SJO) and the Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (LIR). In the works are new boarding gates, luggage carousels, new stores, VIP lounges, and improved Wifi for passengers.
The government is also spending $10M, as we speak, expanding the Quepos/Manuel Antonio airstrip with a longer and wider runway to accommodate larger planes. This popular tourist area that services both Manuel Antonio and Costa Ballena including Dominical and Uvita. The runway is scheduled to reopen in June 2018.
- Airbnb and Smartphone Bookings on the Rise
As hotel booking systems and OTAs (Online Travel Agencies) become ever more secure and easy to use, tourists are increasingly choosing to book online over traditional booking methods like brick-and-mortar agencies or over the phone. The rise of smartphones also means people can make a booking from anywhere and at any time of the day or night. According to a recent report by Phocuswright, today mobile bookings make up 25% of OTA gross bookings and by 2020 this figure is projected to reach 40%!
Also on the rise are sharing-economy platforms like Airbnb which specialise in short-term rentals for both rooms and private apartments. Costa Rica is currently the most important Central American market for Airbnb and in 2017 some 337,000 visitors used the platform to book accomodation. The company has also just launched a selection of over 50 activities hosted by locals which will showcase Costa Rica’s tourism diversity and further boost visitor numbers.