Laurenne Mansbridge

03 November 2020

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Costa Rica during the Coronavirus Pandemic

Here at Pioneer Expeditions we have been contacting our partners to find out how destinations have been coping during these unprecedented times. We thought you may be interested in hearing what it is really like on the ground in some of your favourite countries rather than just touching the surface.  Some are faring better than others (either in respect of Covid19 control, or financially), but all struggling in different ways. We want to portray details at a more personal level – in order to gain more in-depth insights.


Stephanie, Viaggio Travel

This blog is based on words written by Stephanie who runs Viaggio Travel, our partners in Costa Rica.


Opening of Air Borders will happen November 1st – Costa Rica will be open to the world!


Costa Rica first opened its borders with the European Union, Canada and the UK. The country and tourism industry have implemented measurements to ensure safety to visitors. From 1st November 2020, all travellers will be admitted into Costa Rica as long as they comply with the Covid requirements in place.


Covid measures to ensure travel to Costa Rica (as of 3rd November 2020):

  • Not travel if persons are showing symptoms.
  • Travelers medical insurance (you will need to buy specific insurance and an advanced epidemiological information form). 

When in Costa Rica visitors must (as of 3rd November 2020):

  • Avoid greeting with physical contact
  • Wear face coverings or a mask whenever necessary (transfers and tours)
  • Keep a social distance
  • Thoroughly wash hands

Our partners have not stopped working on company projects. Updates and improvements to web pages, social media marketing, online accessibility, packages and itineraries have been the main methods at pushing offers to clients in the hope that they begin to book. Stephanie has also been working on environmental projects and have created new alliances. The company was recently certified as ELITE in sustainability and are ensuring that itineraries are sustainable, family friends and accessible. The hope is that this makes a difference and leads towards a more sustainable and great 2021.


However, below is an insight into what life has been like during the past few months for Coat Rican locals and people working in the tourism industry…


Costa Rica closed its borders March 16th. Since then, people’s everyday structure has been a total rollercoaster. Some weeks the government opens borders, others everything is shut down – you don’t know what the situation will be one week to the next. Every time there is a festive holiday to celebrate the country is shut off –  which is quite often compared to many other countries. Unemployment levels have risen as a result of the constantly changing situations and many people are left worrying about how their livelihoods will be effected. During September, the government has opened the country up somewhat. Bars, casinos and restaurants have been given the green card which is giving the economy a chance to revive itself. However, schools are still not back up and running, which can have a detrimental effect on our children.


Tourism is the largest industry and gains the largest income for Costa Rica’s economy. Tourism also has supports the most employment, with people working both directly and indirectly. After 3 months of close down for the tourism and hospitality sectors, the government announced that hotels could open to locals but only operate at 50% capacity.


“Costa Rican’s travel with a tight budget and sometimes it may be more expensive to open up, than what they would make with locals and 50% capacity”.


Many hotels did not open, as it wouldn’t be economically beneficial. However, as time moves on, borders are opening, but tourists from around the world are afraid and hesitant to travel thus far. Covid-19 has affected almost every aspect of the tourism industry in Costa Rica – some worse than others. Local stores and shops have closed in town. A number of restaurants have also closed due to delivery being the only option, which unfortunately isn’t sustainable for many businesses.


“For us, the tour operators, there is NO work. There are NO tourists. No light at the end of the tunnel for this industry. Locals give support by booking hotels and tours, but use their own resources. This means that us as tour operators, and our guides are still losing out on jobs and income” – Stephanie. 


On a more positive note, the environment and wildlife has been able to begin to flourish. Conservation areas have been restored by animals due to the lack of visitors. As well as this, people have been able to spend more time with family, which is an underlying positive of the pandemic.  This period of time really has led to a clean-up for the world and society.



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