Costa Rica Tourism Up in 2014

Nick Halverson Pam Bunte

Enjoying a drink at Tortilla Flats, Dominical, Osa, Costa Rica. International travel in Costa Rica increased 6.4% in 2014 (up by over 103,000 travelers compared to 2013).

The number of travelers traveling through Costa Rica’s two international airports increased by over 6% in 2014 compared to 2013. The Tico Times provided the following information. Not surprisingly the majority of visitors come from North America. In fact, North America accounted for 74% of all international visitors to Costa Rica in 2013.

Tourism Ministry officials on Thursday reported that revenues from Costa Rica’s travel sector last year totaled $2.6 billion, an 8.3 percent increase over the $2.4 billion registered in 2013, according to figures from the Central Bank.

Officials credited the 2,526,817 international arrivals registered in 2014, an increase of 4.1 percent over the previous year. That’s an increase of 98,876 arrivals by air, land and at ports, the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) reported.

Tourism Minister Wilhelm Von Breymann said that the arrival figures are generated by crossing reports from the Immigration Administration and the ICT.

Air terminals still are the main ports of entry for international travelers, and the country’s two international airports — Juan Santamaría and Daniel Oduber — registered an increase in arrivals of 6.4 percent, or 103,509 travelers.

According to the Immigration Administration, this is the highest number since 2008 when the international crisis hit the tourism sector worldwide and in Costa Rica led to a decrease of more than 100,000 arrivals in 2009.

Von Breymann noted that 67.5 percent of international arrivals came from North American countries, followed by Europe at 16.5 percent and South America at 6.9 percent.

“The ICT’s promotional efforts this year will focus on attracting more tourists from those markets,” Marketing Director Alejandro Castro told The Tico Times.

The U.S. remains the main source of travelers, and in 2014, Costa Rica registered 936,929 arrivals from that country – a 7.6 percent increase from 2013. Arrivals from Canada also increased by 7.5 percent, according to the Immigration Administration report.

“Our research told us that the U.S. has a potential market of 65 to 70 million citizens who want to travel abroad, and some 16 million would be interested in a destination like Costa Rica. So there is still great potential for us to increase arrivals from there,” ICT’s Director of Strategic Planning Rodolfo Lizano said.

By percentage, however, the region that showed the most important hike was Europe, which grew by 19.9 percent. According to Immigration Administration records, Germany, France, Spain and the U.K. are the main sources of travelers from that continent. The only drop was registered by South American travelers, which decreased by 18.1 percent “driven mainly by the FIFA World Cup that attracted tourists to Brazil,” Lizano said.

He also said that greater revenues were influenced by an increase in tourists’ average stay, from 11.6 to 12.1 nights. That prompted a hike in the average per-person spending from $1,252 in 2013 to $1,378 last year.

“These variables reflect Costa Rica’s leadership in the region as our figures actually can be compared with those of major destinations around the world. Our direct competition is not in the region,” Lizano said.

Asked if the opening of relations between Cuba and the U.S. and the boost of the tourism industry in Nicaragua would affect Costa Rica, Von Breymann said he does not believe those countries represent direct threats to Costa Rica’s tourism sector.

“Cuba is basically sun and beach. We have a much wider variety of tourism options here, and the country’s size gives tourists the possibility to visit many different destinations in a short period of time. As for other countries in the region, our main advantage is the experience and development of our tourism industry, which is many years ahead,” he said.

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, regional countries such as Panama and Nicaragua last year registered average stays of eight days, while Cuba and Mexico reported 10 and 11 days, respectively.

ICT officials highlighted that another advantage for Costa Rica is its lodging capacity, as the country currently has 45,531 rooms, a figure that exceeds by far Panama’s 22,768 rooms and Nicaragua’s 11,189, according to World Tourism Organization figures.

Regarding the ministry’s plans for this year, von Breymann said officials have detected a strong potential in specialized types of tourism such as fashion, health and wellness, sports and events. He said officials are hoping to speed up construction of a National Convention Center, a key infrastructure project to attract event-related tourists.

Costa Rica Travler Arrivals by Air (2013, 2014). Source: Costa Rican Tourism Board and Immigration Administration

All data in ‘000s.

North America: 1.082 (2013) 1.162 (2014) Increase of 6%

Europe: 237 (2013) 284 (2014) Increase of 20%

South America: 145 (2013) 119 (2014) Decrease of 18%

Asia-Middle East: 31 (2013) 35 (2014) Increase of 12%

We made a terrific choice!

We made a terrific choice!

The Madrigal family from San Jose, Costa Rica, recently spent a week in Las Villas de San Buenas. After their stay they wrote the following review of their stay.

————

We decided to go south Costa Rica for our year end vacation. We’re from San Jose and we all decided to skip the road to Guanacaste as this time of the year is hectic.

We rented this house for the final week of December and first days of January and we really had a great time here. First of all the road is in in great condition. Directions to the house are also really easy to follow. We were a group of 7 people, 3 couples and a friend. The house has 3 bedrooms, all with their private bathroom. Hot water of course and even a Jacuzzi in the master suite.Costa Rica home rental
Kitchen is in perfect condition, large refrigerator, dishwasher, stove and microwave. Laundry room with washer and dryer. Living room with Sky TV and all others with a DVD player.

The gardens and pool area are exceptional, the ocean view is amazing and we really spent our days there! With a cool breeze and birds singing everywhere.
The property is located in San Buenaventura town, close to beaches, national parks and waterfalls

Now, we really didn’t find any cons, however I must say that the house is listed for 8 people and the house has only 3 bedrooms with 3 beds (for 6 people comfortably accommodated). The other two must sleep in mattresses in the floor so you have to make some room for them in the bedrooms. Not a big issue for us.
Booking process was excellent and Nick the owner, replied every single email in no time.
If you’re thinking for a vacation in south Costa Rica, this is a great choice, you’ll have a wonderful time here!

Southwest Airlines nonstop flights to Costa Rica increasing

Original source: The Tico Times

Southwest Airlines could start offering service to San José, Costa Rica, from Houston, Texas, as early as October 2015, according to a statement from the company on Thursday. San José is among six destinations for which the airline is seeking permission to serve in Latin America, along with four locations in Mexico and Belize.

southwest airlines planeThe Dallas-based airline filed applications with the U.S. Department of Transportation to offer daily, nonstop service from its new $156 million international concourse at William P. Hobby Airport in Houston to Cancun, Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta, and San José del Cabo/Los Cabos, as well as Belize and Costa Rica. The “Love” Airline already plans to offer service between Baltimore-Washington International Airport and Juan Santamaría International Airport starting in March 2015.

“Service to Mexico will be the cornerstone of our international operation at Hobby and the four cities we are announcing today provide exciting travel and business options for consumers. Adding Belize to the Southwest network and growing our Costa Rica service continues our expansion to international destinations where our people and consumer-friendly policies can deliver as no other airline can,” said Gary Kelly, Southwest Airlines Chairman, President and CEO.

The airline already offers flights to Aruba out of Houston and additional service elsewhere to the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Aruba, the Bahamas and Jamaica.

Southwest Airlines starts daily service to Costa Rica in March

Original source: The Tico Times

Southwest Airlines Costa Rica

Southwest Airlines and the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) confirmed that the discount carrier will start daily service to Juan Santamaría International Airport outside San José from Baltimore, effective March 7, according to officials at a press conference Wednesday morning. southwest airlines logo

Southwest Executive Vice President Robert Jordan said that customers can expect fares as low as $130 one way from Baltimore-Washington International Airport, and that the company’s discount reputation would hold true abroad with fares on average 30 to 40 percent lower than their competitors.

Baltimore daily service will be on Boeing 737-700 jets with a capacity of 143 passengers, according to a statement from ICT. Jordan said that customers could connect to 60 destinations on 200 daily flights out of BWI.

President Luis Guillermo Solís, center, meets with Southwest Airlines Executive Vice President Robert Jordan, left, and Tourism Minister Wilhem von Breymann on Wednesday to discuss new flights to Costa Rica. (Courtesy of Costa Rican Tourism Institute)

The discount carrier also plans to start offering direct service from Houston Hobby Airport sometime in October.

“We have millions of current customers in the United States, and we can see where they want to travel, and we can see – based on their requests – that Costa Rica was at the top of their list,” said Andrew Waterson, Southwest vice president of network planning and performance.

“Our international expansion in the first phase is geared toward tourist destinations, and San José represents a different kind of tourist destination – not just a beach, but also business and visiting relatives travel. So, Costa Rica looked like the best fit for our market,” Waterson added.

Tourism Minister Wilhem von Breymann said that the new routes would help bolster Costa Rica’s relationship with the United States, the largest single source of visitors to Costa Rica. According to the ICT, 90 percent of U.S. tourists arrive in Costa Rica by air and spend an average of more than $2,200 per person, per visit.

Tourism industry representatives have been increasingly concerned about the rising costs for travelers in Costa Rica, but Waterson said the country continues to provide greater value than many other destinations.

“There are many countries, many islands that have a great beach, but you can’t leave the hotel. Costa Rica offers a diversity of visiting nice beaches and hotels, but also of seeing more of the country in a safe manner, and that’s priceless,” Waterson said.

President Luis Guillermo Solís said Southwest’s announcement and his intention of opening a direct flight to Costa Rica from China were part of a larger policy to make Costa Rica more connected to the wider world. The president added that the announcement was once again proof that Costa Rica is an attractive, reliable market for companies to invest.

Southwest already offers international service to Aruba, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Mexico. Service to Belize City is expected later in 2015.

Fans of the carrier’s distinctive cattle-call boarding policy can look forward to seeing the same queues here in Costa Rica, Waterson said.

“We can’t wait to show you that Southwest hospitality,” Jordan said.

High Speed Internet Now Available

High Speed Internet Now Available!

It took several years, and lots of meetings and negotiations, but Las Villas de San Buenas now has DSL high-speed internet available!

Internet San Buenas costa rica

ICE installing the internet and phone lines to Las Villas de San Buenas

We have always wanted to be able to offer this to our full-time

customers and our vacation renters, however, the fiber optic network never extended close enough to our entrance to make this a reality. Due to the small population of San Buenaventura (population ~ 400), neither ICE or CableTica were originally interested in connecting the town. However, the nearby elementary school was recently connected and given our proximity to the school we were able to extend the telephony network to our property. The speeds are great!

For those who enjoy streaming movies on Netflix you will be happy to know that Netflix Costa Rica has been available for over three years. In fact, Netflix Costa Rica has its own Facebook page! If you already have a Netflix account outside of Costa Rica it will probably not work in Costa Rica. You will need to sign up for an additional account with Netflix. However, for the price of an netflix costa rica logoinexpensive meal, you will have access to 10,000s of movies, documentaries and specials.

Nick Halverson Costa Rica Video Series p1

Nick Halverson Costa Rica Video Series

Part I in a new video series

Nick Halverson, the CEO of Las Villas de San Buenas, was recently interviewed by Brad Gudim where they briefly discussed Costa Rica real estate. This is the first of the Nick Halverson Costa Rica Video Series. He will be recording more videos each month and will share great information about owning and investing in Costa Rica real estate. This short video (about 10 minutes) provides some background information about Nick Halverson and why he has chosen to develop land in Costa Rica. (LinkedIn profile).

Nick has over nine years of buying, selling and developing land in Costa Rica’s Southern Pacific zone and will be putting on Costa Rica real estate seminars in 2015. If you are interested in joining us for our first seminar in Costa Rica in 2015, or simply want information about visiting Costa Rica, please contact us today.

Stay tuned for the next in the Nick Halverson Costa Rica video series.

Diquís spheres to be declared UNESCO World Heritage site

Diquís spheres to be declared UNESCO World Heritage site — The Tico Times.

Pre-Columbian spheres of Costa Rica

Finca 6 in Palmar Norte is one of the four archeological sites in the Osa municipality in Costa Rica’s south Pacific that will be added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The decision was finalized early this Pre Columbian stone spheres costa ricamorning during a meeting of the World Heritage Comittee in Qatar. The four spots — Finca 6, Grijalba 2, Batambal and El Silencio — are home to Costa Rica’s largest collections of pre-Colombian stone spheres, knows as the Diquís spheres. Discovered in the 1930s by the United Fruit Company, the spheres orgins and purpose have remained a mystery to archealogists for decades.

Lindsay Fendt/The Tico Times

From The Developer:

For anyone who has visited Costa Rica’s Osa region (Southern Pacific) it is likely that they saw at least a couple of pre-Columbian spheres of Costa Rica. What is less known, is that these spheres are only originally found in the Osa region. If you see a Pre-Columbian spheres of Costa Rica outside of the Osa region, it is completely out of place and has obviously been moved.

When these spheres were first discovered many were destroyed by those who found them as they were rumored to have gold in the center of them. There are fewer than twenty known spheres that have not been moved or disturbed from their original placement by some long gone indigenous group.

Finca 6 is only twenty minutes from Las Villas de San Buenas. We provide directions to our guests and clients. Contact us for more information.

My Costa Rica Vacation Video 2014

Costa Rica Vacation Video (June 2014)

The following video compilation is from our most recent trip to Costa Rica (June 2014) when the rest of my family came to Las Villas de San Buenas. My kids absolutely love it here in Costa Rica. The highlights always include daily dips in the swimming pool, running and playing in the Pacific Ocean at Playa Ventanas and going horseback riding on the property.

Come on down and make your own memories here! Contact us today to let us help you plan your Costa Rica trip.

Recent Foreign Investment in Costa Rica

Foreign Investment in Costa Rica

Costa Rica has long been a common location for large multi-national corporations to find highly-educated, reliable employees. Recently, Cargill and IBM each opened up new facilities in the San Jose metro area increasing the foreign investment in Costa Rica in 2014.

Cargill to open Business Services Center in Costa Rica

Cargill, based in Minnesota, USA, is opening business services center that will provide technical support to the
Cargill foreign investment in costa ricagroup’s 50 companies in the Americas in areas such as finance, information technologies, human resources, transportation and logistics. Costa Rica was chosen by Cargill over other
locations in Argentina, Columbia, Panama and Mexico.

Cargill will hire staff with expertise in accounting, business administration, information technology and finance. Potential employees must be fluent in Spanish, English and Portuguese.

Cargill also spoke with representatives from other Fortune 500 companies that have operations in the co
untry, such as WalMart, Procter & Gamble and Citibank.

“Cargill conducted research and chose Costa Rica because it is the most effective and engaging location for us,” Cargill Central America President Bruce Burdett told El Financiero in an interview. “The final decision was based on the country’s political and economic situation, and the availability of a highly trained workforce with good levels of foreign languages.”

Cargill in 2011 acquired Costa Rica’s popular meat and poultry producer Pipasa Corporation and also represents animal food brands including Purina, Ascan, Mimados and Don Gato. This continued foreign investment in Costa Rica will increase their presence here in the country. 

Founded in 1865, Cargill has 143,000 employees in 67 countries. It is a producer and marketer of food, agricultural, financial and industrial products and services. 

Sources: http://www.ticotimes.net/2014/05/06/cargill-chooses-costa-rica-for-new-services-center

IBM Opens IT Security Operations Center in Costa Rica

IBM Logo Costa Rica

IBM celebrated its 10 year anniversary in Costa Rica with the opening of its latest Security Operations Center (SOC). Through an initial investment that includes infrastructure and education, the center will allow IBM to address the growing security needs of its clients in the region.

“We would like to thank IBM for its confidence to reinvest in an operation that will create more quality jobs for its citizens,” said Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis. “The announcement of a new IBM Security Operations Center reinforces the international image that Costa Rica is a strategic target for high-tech investments and is evidence of the commitment made since the first day of this government to dedicate ourselves to proactively executing a directive in favor of new, quality jobs—the main objective of our visit to the United States.  This is a tribute to the quality of human talent in the region.”

With this new center, the first in Costa Rica, IBM adds to the existing services offered in the country including cloud , business analytics , project management, human resources, financial services and more. Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the security center of operations team will monitor the latest security events experienced by IBM clients, assess their potential impact on the business and ensure that IBM clients’ infrastructure is configured to handle the latest threats. As a result of this analysis, IBM will help to protect people, data, applications, transactions and the infrastructure for all businesses in the region.
“Companies like IBM clearly demonstrate the evolution that the services industry is undergoing in Costa Rica as companies here move forward to manage more complex and sophisticated processes,” said the Minister of Foreign Trade, Alexander Mora. “This progress is made possible by the talent and skills of our country’s workforce. We are succeeding in creating new world linkages and providing more value that will help us bring more Costa Rican companies into the dynamics of world trade.”

Sources: http://costaricarealestateblogs.blogspot.com/2014/07/ibm-opens-it-security-operations-center.html

Costa Rica is Home to Top 5 Best Global Medical Care

These 5 Countries Provide The Best Health Care In The World | InternationalLiving.com.

Best Healthcare in the World

InternationalLiving.com’s annual Global Retirement Index reports that France, Uruguay and Malaysia provide the best and most affordable health care in the world.

The Health Care category in the Index considers the cost of care and the quality. Also considered are the number of people per doctor, the number of hospital beds per 1,000 people, the percentage of the population with access to safe water, the infant mortality rate, life expectancy, and public-health expenditure as a percentage of a country’s GDP.

France comes in first in this category as the best country in the world for health care. The Top 5 countries with the best healthcare in the world are as follows:

  1. France
  2. Uruguay
  3. Malaysia
  4. Costa Rica
  5. Mexico

 1. France

According to the World Health Organization, France has the number one health care system in the world. The country also comes first in the health care category of the InternationalLiving.com annual Global Retirement Index 2014. Despite their meat-and cream-rich diet augmented by alcohol and cigarettes, the French have been living much longer in recent years. Life expectancy now averages 85 years for women and 78 for men. 

2. Uruguay

Uruguay has a variety of health care options available that include a public health care system for people who cannot afford to pay for private health care, a number of private health insurance options, and the most popular option, a hospital plan called a “mutualista.” Therefore Uruguay comes in second in the health care category of the InternationalLiving.com annual Global Retirement Index 2014. InternationalLiving.com’s Uruguay correspondent, David Hammond, who has lived in the country for seven years, says: “My personal experience with health care in Uruguay has been positive. The cost is a fraction of what I paid for private coverage in the U.S.” 

3. Malaysia

Malaysia has gained fame as a medical-tourism destination because its health care is among the world’s best—and cheapest. Medical expertise here is equal to or better than that in most Western countries. Malaysia comes in third in the health care category of the InternationalLiving.com annual Global Retirement Index 2014. Despite the low cost of health care in Malaysia, many expats do get private health insurance. There is a plethora of national insurers, with no one company being preferred—expats tend to shop around and look for the cheapest offer. 

4. Costa Rica

Hospital de Osa Costa Rica ball blue

Hospital de Osa is located less than five minutes from Las Villas de San Buenas.

Costa Rica’s excellent and affordable health care is largely the result of government investment in the health sector, plus an atmosphere of political stability. Costa Rica comes in fourth in the health care category of the InternationalLiving.com annualGlobal Retirement Index 2014. By almost any standard, Costa Rica has some of the best health care in Latin America. Not only that, but the country’s public and private health systems are constantly being upgraded—new hospitals, new equipment, and improvements in staff training. 

NOTE from Las Villas de San Buenas: One of Costa Rica’s newest hospitals is located just a couple of miles from Las Villas de San Buenas. This provides an extra layer of support and affordable healthcare options for our clients and guests.

5. Mexico

Given the galloping rise in health care costs in the U.S. and elsewhere, Mexico’s affordable and top-notch health care is a huge benefit to living there. Pretty much across the board, health care in Mexico costs a quarter to a half of what you would pay in the U.S. Mexico comes in fifth in the health care category of the InternationalLiving.com annual Global Retirement Index 2014. Medical insurance with Mexico’s national health care service costs less than $300 a year; private insurance will cost more, depending on age and pre-existing conditions—but still a fraction of what you’d pay in the U.S. for similar coverage. Photo: Glynna Prentice,InternationalLiving.com