After the summer Covid-19 cases spike in the US, countries have taken one of two positions on American travelers: greet them, or, more likely, Prohibition the mall.
A new plan from Costa Rica takes a nuanced approach. On August 19, the Central American country announced that it was welcoming residents of six US states.
Which states were selected?
Residents of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont will be able to fly to Costa Rica starting September 1st.
This opens up the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica for approximately 35 million Americans, or nearly 11% of the US population.
Several reports quoted a Costa Rican tourism official as saying the country had selected U.S. states whose outbreak conditions were similar or better to those in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica closed its borders to international travelers on March 18 and reopened them on August 1 to select low risk countries. Residents of the European Union and the Schengen Zone, United Kingdom, Canada, Uruguay, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, China, Australia and New Zealand are also allowed.
Costa Rica is also supposed to evaluate infection rates in Colorado, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. These states can potentially come next. according to local reports.
Is there a way around it?
Maybe. But those hoping to bypass state rule cannot simply travel to an authorized state and catch a flight to Costa Rica.
In addition to an electronic health passport, negative RT-PCR For a diagnostic test (performed within 48 hours of travel) and health insurance, American travelers must present a driver’s license showing a residential address in one of the six approved states.
Americans must show a driver’s license to prove the state’s residency requirements.
Kryssia Campos | Moment | Getty Images
However, private flights from the US will be able to fly into Costa Rica starting September 1, because “their size and nature means they pose a much lower epidemiological risk,” according to a statement by the Costa Rica Tourism Board dated August 19. Private flights from unauthorized states (or countries) are subject to a “Exception procedure“and checked on a case-by-case basis.
Travelers arriving by private yacht from an unauthorized city or port may deduct the number of days spent at sea from their quarantine requirements.
Costa Rica’s confidence in US tourists
More Americans travel to Costa Rica than any other nationality. In 2019 over 40% of all tourists came to the country.
Costa Rica’s decision to partially accept American tourists came after the Guanacaste Tourism Chamber published an open letter asking the Costa Rican government to accept US travelers reported from the Tico Times.
The letter, published August 7th and signed by several tourism boards, highlighted the ongoing economic impact on the northwestern province, which is popular with tourists.
“It’s no secret that economic support for US tourism is most significant to the Guanacaste region,” said the letter, which found that nearly 74% of passengers arrived at Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport in the province last year came from the United States.
The province is home to resorts like the Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica on the Papagayo Peninsula and the JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa.
Will other countries follow Costa Rica’s approach?
State-to-state admission of U.S. travelers can be a way for countries to balance the need for American tourist dollars against the health risks that Americans pose as a whole. The United States has suffered as a result the worst outbreak in the world in terms of recorded coronavirus infections and deaths.
Neal Allen, associate professor of political science at Wichita State University, said Costa Rica’s step-by-step approach to lifting travel restrictions on the United States currently fits the “disorganized nature” of the American government.
The turquoise waters of the Rio Celeste are a popular spot in Tenorio Volcano National Park in Guanacaste, Costa Rico.
Matteo Colombo | DigitalVision | Getty Images
“The spread of Covid-19 and government responses vary from state to state, so Costa Rica is just following the pattern of our government response,” he said. “Other countries less dependent on US tourism may not follow Costa Rica’s lead, but it makes sense to think about it.”
Dean Headley, co-author of the Airline quality rating and Professor Emeritus at Wichita State University’s W. Frank Barton School of Business, said he believes other countries could wait to see if Costa Rica’s approach works.
“Other countries may follow, but it certainly takes some time to figure out what impact this has on local Covid numbers in both Costa Rica and the US states of origin,” he said. “The first attempt is always a risk, but hopefully this is a positive start to a new normal.”
The US State Department has one Level 4 travel advice for Costa Rica. Americans are advised not to travel to Costa Rica because of Covid-19 and to exercise “increased caution” there because of crime.