The Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT) has announced that during the first six months of 2011, Costa Rica had 1,197,199 international tourists arrive through various ports of entry. This corresponds to a 6.5 percent increase, compared to the first half of the last four years and the forecasted growth of the World Tourism Organization, which is between 4 and 5 percent. This was revealed by data from the Department of Immigration and Foreign Services (DGME) and analyzed by the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT).

Of all tourists who entered Costa Rica during the first half of the year, 806,651 arrived by air (646,886 through the Juan Santamaria Airport and 157,820 through the Daniel Oduber International Airport).  In June, 176,360 tourists entered through all the ports, 86 thousand of which were Americans, the main source market for Costa Rica. This figure represents half of all visitors entering the country during that month. Of these, 81,578 arrived by air.

Tourism Minister Allan Flores said that this data reflects the tireless efforts of the tourism sector to highlight the destination’s unique innovation and sustainability offerings. “These figures are encouraging and urge us to continue to work hard to increase the possible stay time and average spending of visitors in Costa Rica and committed to further promotional and marketing strategies, along with attracting new airlines,” said Flores.

Plans were recently unveiled for Costa Rica’s first, world-class national convention and exhibition center, which is set to open in 2014 and will benefit the influx of business travelers to Costa Rica. In addition, the ICT presented a national plan for sustainable tourism through 2016 which aims to maintain an annual 5 percent increase in the number of international tourists, ensure a minimum of 500 tourism businesses obtain Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST), and a secure 10 percent increase in hotel occupancy in properties with CST.