What Travelers Need to Consider Before Traveling to Costa Rica

During the past few weeks, I have been fortunate to have applied and interviewed for an abroad internship in Costa Rica. I want to work in a country where I can practice and strengthen my Spanish while gaining valuable experience for my future. Googling “Costa Rica” for the first time, I was shocked to hear that it was ranked at a very high COVID level right now— grade 4. With the vaccine becoming more accessible, The University of Oregon’s GlobalWorks International Internship program is hopeful and optimistic that international travel is something that students can begin planning for again. Aware that abroad experiences may change at any given time due to travel restrictions, UO students can’t help but get excited about the possibility. As more community members receive the vaccine, the easier it is for me to hope that this experience will work out. People have begun to talk about how traveling out of the country will soon return to normal, and I can only pray this comes true or close to it.

I have since then continued researching and following the country’s current and projected condition. According to the Center for Disease for Control and Prevention (CDC), “an order effective January 26, 2021, requires all air passengers arriving to the U.S. from a foreign country to get tested for COVID-19 infection no more than three days before their flight departs and to provide proof of the negative result or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 to the airline before boarding the flight”. I was happy to hear people could still travel to Costa Rica, following the safety protocols, of course. Digging around online some more, I read that back on November 1, 2020, Costa Ricans welcomed U.S. citizens to travel to Costa Rica without a negative COVID test and proper quarantine. 

© Photo by Shutterstock

Searching for more articles or news on the subject, I could only find these few pieces. I couldn’t help but notice how ineffective CDC’s announcement was in simulating news about the U.S. It is now January; why haven’t journalists done their research and cover this topic more? Shouldn’t there be more news warning U.S citizens about the high levels of cases in Costa Rica?  

Some context for those who do not know much about Costa Rica and the United States’ ties to the Latin American country, more than 120,000 US citizens resided in Costa Rica before the coronavirus. As of September 2020, the U.S. has supplied over $1.6 million of assistance to Costa Rica. They have “provided medical supplies, personal protective equipment, and supplemental assistance to assist in controlling the effects of COVID-19”

However, Costa Rica still needs economic stimulation from their annual tourists that COVID has sadly stunted despite the medical assistance. Despite the CDE’s efforts to control the rising cases, “Costa Rica continues to promote tourism as a means through which it might reactivate its economy. In November, more than 24,000 people flew to Costa Rica from the United States, according to the Tourism Board”

Costa Ricans welcome U.S citizens to travel to Costa Rica without a negative COVID test or quarantine for profits. At the same time, CDC tries to reduce the spreading of SARS-CoV-2 by instilling stricter rules for U.S citizens. 

I find these arguments very contradicting because the United States is trying to allocate travel regulations to Costa Rica and other international countries, while Costa Rica itself is disregarding them in hopes to help bring back their economy. While I understand how many Costa Ricans see opening back up for their tourists as beneficial, they are endangering their communities. 

U.S. agencies do little to prevent its citizens from traveling and adding to the rising COVID cases in Costa Rica. I say this only because the U.S. is not communicating to its public about the increasing number of Costa Rica cases, besides the CDC’s update statement about COVID safety protocol. 

Unable to accept this, I went back to google and looked one more time to see if I could find any more updates. To my surprise, I found that the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica has announced that they can provide PCR tests for Americans, along with other safety measures, yet news of this in the U.S. is not circulating as much as it needs to be either. 

I believe this lack of coverage is an issue U.S journalists need to address. After CDC’s accouchement came out, both reporters and PR specialists should have been promoting a conversation about traveling internationally and how it will affect the country’s communities. U.S. citizens need to know and be cautious of the rising COVID-19 cases in countries like Costa Rica. Each country is struggling right now, but we have to look out for each other. As 2021 begins, I hope the media surrounding Costa Rica and travel precautions become more accessible to the public both in and outside of the country.

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