Costa Rica’s appeal is growing as a venue for international sporting events, even those for which you don’t need to be a professional, such as marathons, triathlon, golf and surf tournaments, as well as Ironman. Some of these events are certified with the “essential Costa Rica” country brand to promote themselves inside and outside our borders.
“We see that sport is really a decisive element in tourist visits, next to the beach, ecotourism, wellness tourism, adventure and culture,” said Alberto López, general manager of the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT).
25% of tourists who enter the country for personal reasons, indicated that they arrived in Costa Rica driven by the practice of some sport, according to surveys conducted by the ICT. Sport is also an important complement to stays in the country, as it is offered in tours and travel packages.
Sports as a hook for visits
When athletes come exclusively to compete in tournaments organized in the country, these serve as hooks for a second visit, explained the ICT general manager. 40% of tourists who come to Costa Rica have done so more than once. This percentage visits the country about seven times on average.
The possibility of holding massive sporting events and achieving such an attraction lies in the international positioning as a brand. Golf, surfing, rafting, cycling, athletics, triathlon and sport fishing are the favorite events of foreigners.
The Costa Rica Classic golf tournament, the date of the PGA Tour Latin America, is one of the events licensed under the “essential Costa Rica” brand and is undoubtedly one of the best hooks for potential leisure tourists.
“PGA has contracts with very important television stations and for each host country it produces a 15-minute promotional video, which is undoubtedly an important exhibition at the tourist level,” explained Maurizio Musmanni, president of the Costa Rican Golf Federation.
Americans, Chileans, Argentines and Central Americans are the main golf tourists. The fact that the best courts to practice this sport are concentrated in Guanacaste, tempts the player to complement their visit with trips to the beach and other recreational activities. The courses in Peninsula Papagayo, Hacienda Pinilla and Reserva Conchal are true paradises for golfers.
“When a tourist comes to play golf, he likes to do it on two or three different types of courses … Guanacaste has the peculiarity that it has three excellent courses nearby and that makes it attractive,” Musmanni explained.
The San José Half Marathon, the L’Étape Costa Rica cycling event, the Ironman 70.3 and the Esencial Costa Rica Pro Open surf tournament are other events licensed under the country brand.
Five world-class events have the essential Costa Rica seal
- San José Half Marathon
- L’Étape Costa Rica
- Essential Costa Rica Pro Open
- Ironman 70.3
- Costa Rica Classic