Costa Rican 2010 tourism reported up 11 percent over 2009

The country hosted nearly 1 million Canadian and U.S. tourists in 2010, an 11 percent increase over 2009, according to immigration figures released Monday by the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo.

Visitors from the two northern countries represented less than half of the 2 million tourists Costa Rican officials like to brag about. European figures were not available.

Total tourism rose 9.2 percent in 2010 to 2,099,892, the data said. That brought tourism figures up higher than that registered in 2008, which was a record year with 2,089,174 tourists.

In 2009, 770,129 U.S. citizens arrived as tourists. That number was 830,933 in 2010, There were 83,675 Canadian tourists in 2009 and 119,655 in 2010, according to the data.

A lot of the tourism visas issued by Costa Rica are not to traditional tourists. For example, tourism from Nicaragua is a significant number, although those figures were not released Monday.

The U.N. World Tourism Organization reported Monday that total 2010 tourism was up 6.7 percent over 2009. Growth was strongest in South America at 10 percent, the U.N. agency said.

Carlos Ricardo Benavides, tourism minister here, estimated Monday that Latin American tourism was up between 5 and 6 percent. The U.N. agency did not have figures for Central America.

The Daniel Oduber airport in Liberia handled 225,224 tourists in 2010, some 34,468 more than in 2009, said the tourism institute. That is an increase of 18.1 percent, it added. More statistics are available on the institute’sWeb site.

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