Costa Rican hotel and tourist operators may have to start learning Mandarin if President Luis Guillermo Solís’ administration makes good on a goal to court more Chinese tourists. Solís made the statement during his trip to Beijing.
The president, who met with Li Jinzao, director of the China National Tourism Administration, said that tourism is one of the strategic priorities of the two countries’ relationship. Solís said Costa Rica would work with the Chinese government to establish a direct flight from China to Costa Rica and announced the opening of a new consulate in Shanghai.
Costa Rica plans to work with China to improve the number of Mandarin speakers at Costa Rican tourist outfits and extend an invitation to Chinese tourism businesses to participate in the next EXPOTUR trade show in early May, according to the statement from Casa Presidencial.
Foreign Minister Manuel González said the new consulate will help expand the country’s image as a tourist destination and diversify the mix of countries that sent 2.4 million tourists to Costa Rica in 2013. Costa Rica’s travel sector was hard-hit by its strong dependence on U.S. tourists during the financial crisis of the late 2000s.
According to Pierre Gervois, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the Shanghai Travelers’ Club magazine,” We have worked with the Costa Rica Embassy in China since 2013 to define the best way to attract High Net Worth Chinese travelers to this beautiful country. Costa Rica has amazing experiences to offer for discerning Chinese tourists.”
Increasing purchasing power and fewer travel restrictions have made Chinese travelers one of the most coveted demographics for tourist destinations. China has become the world’s largest source of international tourists, who spent $129 billion on travel in 2013, according to the World Tourism Organization. But Costa Rica has yet to tap into this market. In 2014, only 6,734 Chinese tourists flew into Juan Santamaría International Airport, according to figures from the Immigration Administration.
Chinese tourists require visas prior to their arrival in Costa Rica, but this process is less intensive now than in years past, said Andrea Quesada, press spokeswoman at the Immigration Administration.