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Costa Rica has a long-held reputation for being a beautiful natural paradise, a safe and clean country, and one of the happiest nations to call home. The country prioritizes wellbeing of both its land and its citizens. This is what makes it a great place to visit and a major reason why so many people have over the years. The country has a well-functioning democracy and a solid infrastructure (health care, education, communication, etc.).
Recently, the Covid-19 crisis has shown that the country and its citizens can successfully withstand external pressure and still organize itself to thrive. For these reasons and more, Costa Rica has positioned itself as an optimal place to visit when it is both safe and recommended to travel again in the Covid-19 era.
The Costa Rican government’s success in dealing with Covid-19 pandemic
Costa Rica acted quickly and effectively in the face of the growing threat of Covid-19, declaring a national emergency on March 16th. It closed its borders on March 18th, allowing only citizens and permanent residents to enter. Businesses were asked to shut down, and people to stay home. A number of other measures were put into place — driving restrictions, closures of beaches and parks, and mass gatherings cancelled, to name a few. The government focused on the wellbeing of those within its borders by effectively shutting down everything but essential services. This was a blow to the economy (there are reports that it will shrink by 3.6% in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic), but a sacrifice that the government deemed necessary.
The government’s strong action has been effective, and has been lauded by both national and international press for handling the pandemic in an effective way.
For an updated look at the most recent Covid-19 developments in Costa Rica, check out this blog.
Costa Rica’s effective communication strategy
According to the Tico Times:
Communication from authorities has been informative and consistent. The Health Ministry — headed by Daniel Salas, who has a medical degree, a background in epidemiology and a degree in public health — leads a nationally televised press conference at the same time every day. While some recommendations (whether to close the borders, for instance) have changed, the overall theme has persisted that the entire country needs to work together in order to contain the virus.
“We’ve had a very controlled transmission,” Salas said last week. “That’s in large part to the actions taken at the appropriate moment, but also due to the very favorable response from a population that understands the challenge we’re facing.”
Costa Rica acts for wellbeing of citizens, residents, and prospective visitors
Leadership earns widespread trust when it proves to act in ways that are best for its constituents; yet it gains widespread respect when it proves to act in ways that are to the visceral and immediate benefit of its constituents. In the case of the Costa Rican government, it already had widespread trust (seemingly, regardless of which party is in power) because it has a long history as a stable and functioning democracy. In Costa Rica’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis, the government seems to have earned itself the respect of citizens.
There have obviously been aspects of the “national emergency” that have been hard to swallow for everyone (even for us here at Bodhi Surf + Yoga, i.e. extended beach closures). This is a strange and difficult situation; many are sacrificing normalcy and livelihood to mitigate the spread of Covid-19. Though it appears that people in Costa Rica are indeed listening to the directives of the government, because they have been proven to act in the interest of wellbeing for all. This appears to be one of the main reasons that Costa Rica has seen such a low transmission rate of the novel coronavirus.
Here is the video with the new protocols for entering Costa Rica via the Juan Santamaria International Airport, which is reopening to visitors from the UK, EU, and Canada on August 1, 2020.
Why choose Costa Rica as your next place to visit?
Costa Rica is a wonderful place to be, period. To live, to visit. This country has so much going for it: natural beauty, strong ecological movements, happy citizens, access to education and technology, potable water, universal health care, and a strong democracy to name a few.
While no one can travel right now, there will be a time when it is okay to do so again. The world may look a little different — and travel too — but hopefully there will be better, safer, healthier, and cleaner versions!
In the meantime, we can plan and we can dream. So what makes Costa Rica an ideal place to visit in the Covid-19 era?
Costa Rica is small
The country has a small landmass and a small population. The population density of Costa Rica is 100 per square kilometer (compared to NYC’s 10,194 per square kilometer). Furthermore, as you get away from the capital city of San Jose and its surrounding areas, the population decreases drastically. According to the Tico Times, “The province of San José has a population density of 323 people per square kilometer, while Puntarenas, Guanacaste and Limón provinces hover closer to 10% of that figure.” There are certainly pros and cons of being in a sparsely populated area, but in the era of global pandemics, it’s a plus.
Costa Rica is safe
Like anywhere in the world, Costa Rica has had its incidents. And like anywhere in the world, it’s recommended to always practice vigilance and good judgement in order to avoid problems; unfortunately, that’s even more important for solo female travelers. Yet Costa Rica remains a safe international travel destination. Costa Rica was ranked the second most peaceful country in Latin America, and is in it’s own right considered to have a high level of peace as ranked by the Global Peace Index. Prior to the Coronavirus outbreak, Costa Rica was also classified safe by the U.S. Department of State’s Overseas Security Advisory Council.
Costa Rica is clean
Costa Rica is a very clean country, and not just visibly (though certainly it’s something that people notice — the lack of trash on the ground). It has potable water, which drastically decreases the instance of food and water-borne illness. The Covid-19 pandemic precipitated the adoption of new protocols of cleanliness for businesses and individuals alike, urged by the Costa Rican Ministry of Health.
Costa Rica is also addressing cleanliness in a different way. There are commitments in place to go carbon neutral by 2021. According to Vox, “Home to 4.8 million people, Costa Rica has long punched above its weight on climate change policy and action, and has produced many leaders who’ve promoted aggressive, progressive environmental policies on the international stage.” Costa Rica also plans to ban single-use plastics by 2021. The majority of the country has potable water, which contributes to better overall health of residents and visitors alike.
Costa Rica has a good healthcare system
Healthcare is likely to be a defining factor for many in deciding where they want to travel in the Covid-19 era. No healthcare system is perfect, but Costa Rica’s appears to get more positive reviews than negative. There is universal health care for citizens and residents. As for tourists and visitors, there are both public and private systems that can be utilized depending on the individual’s health insurance. Moreover, paying out of pocket is significantly less expensive than in much of the Western world.
Costa Rica is beautiful
Like, really beautiful. Like, postcard beautiful. Costa Rica is a natural paradise. It’s clean, it’s pristine. According to Go Visit Costa Rica, Costa Rica has approximately 25% of its territory under some form of protection. It is also one of the most biodiverse regions in the world — an estimated 5% of the world’s biodiversity can be found within this tiny nation. Most of Costa Rica’s draw is indeed its outdoor activities and attractions, which we anticipate will be more sought-after in the Covid-19 era as so many of them were deemed safe (and conducive to social distancing).
Costa Rica is friendly
Costa Rica is an incredibly welcoming nation. Costa Ricans are proud of their country, and excited to show it off to visitors. You will undoubtedly notice this: from the immigration officers, to your taxi or shuttle drivers, to staff working at your hotel or rental, to your tour guides, to your surf and yoga instructors! The people often make a place, and Costa Rica is no exception.
Costa Rica is easy to get to
With each passing year, Costa Rica is becoming more and more accessible to reach with flights being added all the time. While it’s difficult to say with 100% certainty what air travel is going to look like going forward, we believe that the above factors will contribute to people wanting to visit Costa Rica, in addition to having plenty of flight options to choose from.
We hope you’ll come see us!
For all of these reasons and more, we do hope that you will come visit Costa Rica when we get the all-clear from our governments and the organizations whose job it is to keep us all safe and healthy. In the meantime, you can still dream!