Mauricio Ventura, Costa Rica’s tourism minister said he feels confident to compete against Cuba in the battle to attract visitors from the United States, now that travel restrictions to the island have been eased by the Obama administration.
On March 15, the U.S. government announced new rules that allow American citizens to visit Cuba on their own for educational and people interaction purposes without a special permission.
Visitors are required to keep a journal of the trip for 5 years, according to the Department of State.
According to Ventura, any change in the Caribbean touristic offer will be carefully monitored. However, Costa Rica tourism authorities not only keep an eye on the island but also around the world, he said.
“Cuba has specific well-known destinations, like Varadero Beach. In contrast, Costa Rica is well known in the world as a whole country. Our brand is Costa Rica itself. Visitors usually go to different parts all around the country. This phenomenon democratizes the income” he said.
Last year, Costa Rica attracted 2.66 million tourists who generated a total revenue of $2.8 billion, said Ventura.
On the other hand, Cuba received 3.5 million visitors, according to the state-run daily Cubadebate.cu
“Costa Rica also offers nature and relaxation as products, while Cuba usually sells historic and political experiences.” Ventura added.
“We are number one in the world in touristic competitiveness and number 2 in adventure experiences. It’s like we are champions in the tourism olympics, so we remain calm.” he affirmed.