The Costa Rica Tourism Board and the Directorate General of Immigration (DGME) are pleased to announce that Costa Rica welcomed 2,195,960 visitors in 2011, a 4.6 percent increase when compared to tourist arrivals from 2010. This represents an increase of 91,131 travelers year over year. Nearly 70 percent of arrivals into the country were by air, with 1,196,257 visitors arriving through Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose and 264,165 arriving via Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport in Liberia.

The main tourist markets for Costa Rica also showed positive growth in 2011, with the European travel market growing by 4.8 percent, the North American market by 3.9 percent and the South American market by 8.2 percent, when compared to figures from 2010.

For Costa Rica Minister of Tourism Allan Flores, these figures represent the hard work of both the public and private sectors to encourage travel into Costa Rica, along with positioning the country as a pioneer in the development of sustainable tourism. Furthermore, the minister commented that Costa Rica’s tourism industry must continue to innovate and promote the development of new market niches, such as rural tourism, cultural tourism, medical tourism and congress and convention tourism, with the latter being strengthened by the construction of Costa Rica’s National Convention and Exhibition Center.

“We are committed to raising awareness about Costa Rica and increasing the average stay of our visitors, in order for our tourism industry to generate significant benefits. We are working diligently to attract more airlines into our country, position the destination at international fairs and trade shows and promoting our one-of-a-kind attractions in our core markets,” commented Costa Rica Minister of Tourism Allan Flores.

Costa Rica ended the year with a surge in visitors, as tourism numbers for the month of December surpassed those of December 2010 by 7.6 percent. Approximately 217,743 international visitors traveled into Costa Rica in December 2011, close to 16,000 more than in December 2010. December 2011 also marked a 31.4 percent increase in arrivals at Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport, when compared to travel figures from 2010. During this period, the North American market showed an increase of 11.9 percent, with arrivals from the United States increasing by 11.4 percent and arrivals from Canada increasing by 17.6 percent. These figures reinforce the fact that the United States continues to be the main source of visitors traveling into Costa Rica, followed by travelers from South America (showing an increase of 7.5 percent), specifically travelers from Brazil, which saw an impressive 29.5 percent growth in December 2011, when compared to figures from December 2010.