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Strategy to attract more airlines to Liberia under revision while visits increase

  • From 2010 to now, nine airlines fly to the province
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In November, 2015, Thomas Airways opened a direct route between Gadwick (London) and the city of Liberia. Credit: Casa Presidencial.

The number of international arrivals to the country through Daniel Oduber International Airport isn’t slowing down.

 

In 2016, Liberia reported a 35% increase in the number of visitors over the previous year.

 

In just the first five months of 2017, Costa Rica has nearly reached half of all arrivals in 2016.


The attraction of new airlines, the opening of new routes and an increase in the frequency of existing flights have made this possible.

 

 

But in spite of these good results, the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) says that it’s working on revising the strategy to attract airlines to the province to determine if it can continue contributing to the local dynamism.

Airlines arriving

From 2010 until today, Daniel Oduber International Airport, in Liberia, receives nine airlines on its runways. Authorities consider this number ideal and satisfactory.

This number has been increasing over time. 2015 was the best year, when three airlines opened routes to Liberia.

At that time, Costa Rica – from Guanacaste – was creating connections with the main outbound-tourism markets for Costa Rica-bound tourists.

Later, in 2016 and 2017, the uptick in attracting airlines slowed and there has not been a new airline landing in the province.

For tourism authorities, this is explained by Daniel Oduber’s profile.

According to Minister of Tourism Mauricio Ventura, Liberia’s airport is very much tourism-oriented, unlike Juan Santamaría International Airport in Alajuela. Liberia receives mainly international arrivals and not as many departures, so marketing it beyond our borders requires different strategies.

“The nature of Liberia’s airport makes attracting airlines difficult. So it’s not as important to think about the number of airlines, but rather look at a detail such as the number of available seats. In 2016 there were 784,833 available seats, a 55% increase in comparison with a year before [2015],” said the minister.

Authorities add other elements to determine Daniel Oduber’s success, such as the report of new routes and increase in flight frequencies, as well as existing airlines.

In the period analyzed, four new routes and two increased flight frequencies were counted.

Read also: Hoteliers seek a more modern sustainability certification from the ICT

Fine-tuning strategies

In order to keep up the good numbers both in the tourism sector as well as in general, in Liberia the institution has recently worked in conjunction with Daniel Oduber’s administrator, Coriport, on a revision of the strategy that has been applied to attracting international flights.

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The revision is happening while the country is getting ready for one of the most recognized international aviation fairs: World Routes, which will take place this September in Barcelona.

“Our strategy is one of constant revision, both with the concessionary and in general. We’re looking for flights for the entire country, not just for one specific region, so an airline might be more interested in one airport or the other, or both,” said Ventura.

Business is booming

In 2016, more than 570,000 international arrivals came through Liberia’s airport, a 35% increase in comparison with 2015.

At the same time, out of the total number of tourists who arrived to Costa Rica by air, 900,000 spent at least one night in Guanacaste.

Read: ICT authorizes ¢622 to repair tourist roads in Liberia

Statistics from the Foreign Trade Ministry show that tourism continues to strengthen as the industry that propels export growth at a national level.

According to a quarterly report on the evolution of the exportation of services (through the first quarter of 2017), exports of services in the 12 months from April 2016 to March 2017 reached $8.8 million, of which 45% (3.9 million) corresponded to the tourism industry.

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