With the deadly coronavirus continuing to spread, Costa Rica’s tourism sector has begun to feel the pinch, putting hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk.
As many as 8,000 hotel reservations were canceled last week alone after the Central American country imposed stringent travel restrictions to contain the outbreak.
Although tourism accounts for barely 8% of the country’s GDP, it is the country’s major employer. There are more than 220,000 Costa Ricans working in various segments of the tourism sector.
Costa Rica has now closed most of its major tourist hotspots, banned cruise ships, and ordered mandatory quarantine for people arriving from infected countries.
Earlier this week, President Carlos Alvarado declared a state of emergency, banning foreigners and non-residents from arriving in the country. Even Costa Ricans coming from foreign countries should isolate themselves for 14 days.
The Central American country has long been a favorite hangout for tourists from the United States and Europe. It welcomed around 3.1 million foreign tourists last year; nearly half of them were Americans, with Europeans numbering about 50,000.
Analysts say most of the hotels and resorts in the country might remain empty until the end of June, pointing to a statement from the country’s Association of Travel Agencies, which said 90% of bookings had been canceled.