The Instituto Costarricense de Turismo said Thursday that the Spanish airline Iberia would be increasing its capacity to over 234,000 airplane seats in 2012 for people traveling between Spain and Costa Rica. That constitutes a 5.5 percent increase in passenger capacity for people traveling from major tourism markets in Europe such as Spain, France, Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom. Iberia offers daily direct flights between San José and Madrid. Iberia has a flight network branching out to 32 Spanish cities, as well as 41 European stops and 11 more in the Middle East and Africa, the institute reports.
The tourism institute applauded the announcement because Spanish visitors account for the largest share of European tourism dollars spent in Costa Rica, about $58 million per year. In 2010 approximately 48,500 Spanish tourists came to Costa Rica and 82 percent came by airplane. The visitors stayed an average of 13 nights and spent about $125 per day, according to tourism statistics. The institute said that Iberia is the only airline that has flown continuously to Central America over the past 40 years.