SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA – September 13th, 2012 – Costa Rica is far from meeting the goal that was set by President Laura Chinchilla to attract 50,000 Chinese citizens to Costa Rica per year. The current number is actually below 5,000.
The President gave the challenge on August 18th, after a trip to China.
There are several problems making this a difficult goal to meet, including the distance, the language barrier, and the visa requirements for citizens of China. The Minister of Tourism, Allan Flores, stated on Tuesday that it would take from two to four years in order to reach the government’s goal.
According to Flores, the plan requires adjustments, both in logistics as well as areas of immigration.
Flores also said that the visa process for Chinese citizens continues to need improvement.
Kathia Rodriguez, director of immigration, said that the department has been very flexible in providing Chinese with visas, adding that the program needs to be promoted and tested.
In January 2011, a guideline that allows Chinese with visas from Canada, the United States, the European Union, or a Schengen country (26 countries in Europe that have agreed to create a common area) to enter Costa Rica freely, came into effect.
Anabel Gonzalez, Minister of Foreign Trade, said steps have also been taken to allow Chinese business people to more easily travel to and from the country. She added, “our relationship with China is in a growing and strengthening process, and as we get to know one another better, we are creating more and more interest in exploring business opportunities.”