The numbers are in and they look good. The ministry of tourism, Carlos Ricardo Benavides recently announced that tourism was up 11.5% in the first quarter of 2010. The numbers reflect a substantial increase in arrivals into Costa Rica. American Airlines recently added direct flights from JFK airport in New York and a number of foreign carriers are also adding flights into the country. According to the ministry of tourism, they expect the number of tourists visiting Costa Rica to swell to nearly 2.5 million per year in the next few years.
Meanwhile the San Jose airport expansion being carried out by Alterra is nearing completion. In my last two trips to Costa Rica, both the new immigration entrance and the new departure security area have opened and are now in full use. The new immigration station can handle many more arriver's than in the past. The new departure security area is also much larger than the old one and much more efficient as well. It appears that the new gates are also nearing completion and should be finished sometime this year. The airport expansion was funded by Alterra, a private consortium that also built the second international airport in Liberia Costa Rica. When the government wanted to double the size of the terminal in San Jose, Alterra offered to buy out the existing airport and fund the expansion in exchange for the concession rights on gate fees and retail rentals. It is rumored that Alterra will also build the third international airport in the southern region once they are done with the terminal expansion at the Juan Santamaria airport in San Jose.
Workers inspect the new gate areas at the San Jose international Airport