Tourism in Costa Rica

Costa Rica recorded a total of 3 million tourists in 2016, ranking 71st in the world in absolute terms.

That smaller countries regularly perform lower in a comparison of the absolute number of guests, is obvious. By putting the tourist numbers in relation to the population of Costa Rica, the result is much more comparable picture: With 0.60 tourists per resident, Costa Rica ranked 72nd in the world. In Central America, it ranked 2nd.

Costa Rica generated around 3.96 billion US Dollar in the tourism sector alone. This corresponds to 6.9 percent of its the gross domestic product.



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Development of the tourism sector in Costa Rica from 1995 to 2016

The following chart shows the number of tourist arrivals registered in Costa Rica each year. Anyone who spends at least one night in the country but does not live there for more than 12 months is considered a tourist. Insofar as the survey included the purpose of the trip, business trips and other non-tourism travel purposes have already been excluded. The number of people passing through within the same day, and e.g. crew members of ships or flights are also not considered as tourists in most countries. If the same person travels in and out more than once within the same year, each visit counts again.

Data in the chart are given in millions of tourists. The red line represents the average of all countries in Central America.

Tourists per year in Costa Rica

Revenues in tourism

In 1995, tourism revenues amounted to 763.00 million USD, or about 6.6 percent of the gross national product. This corresponded to about 785,000 tourists at that time and roughly 972 USD per person. Within 21 years, the country's dependence on tourism has increased slightly. In the last year of the survey, the revenue now amounts to 3.96 billion USD, accounting for 6.9 percent of the gross national product. Each visitor now spends an average of 1,352 USD for his holiday in Costa Rica.

Annual receipts as percentage of the gross national product:
Tourism receipts in Costa Rica per year

All data for Costa Rica in detail

YearNumber of touristsReceipts\% of GNPExpences per person
1995785,000763.00 m $6.6 %972 $
1996781,000797.00 m $6.9 %1,020 $
1997811,000860.00 m $6.9 %1,060 $
1998943,0001.04 bn $7.6 %1,101 $
19991.03 m1.26 bn $8.8 %1,217 $
20001.09 m1.48 bn $9.9 %1,358 $
20011.13 m1.34 bn $8.4 %1,184 $
20021.11 m1.29 bn $7.8 %1,161 $
20031.24 m1.42 bn $8.3 %1,149 $
20041.45 m1.59 bn $8.6 %1,092 $
20051.68 m1.81 bn $9.1 %1,078 $
20061.73 m1.87 bn $8.3 %1,081 $
20071.98 m2.22 bn $8.3 %1,122 $
20082.09 m2.53 bn $8.3 %1,213 $
20091.92 m2.00 bn $6.5 %1,041 $
20102.10 m2.18 bn $5.8 %1,038 $
20112.19 m2.65 bn $6.3 %1,207 $
20122.34 m2.77 bn $6.0 %1,184 $
20132.43 m3.17 bn $6.4 %1,306 $
20142.53 m3.14 bn $6.2 %1,241 $
20152.66 m3.41 bn $6.2 %1,281 $
20162.93 m3.96 bn $6.9 %1,352 $


All data correspond to the information of the World Tourism Organization.