Costa Rica has been very open with their mission to build economic and trade relations with Asia. In the past five years, the country has seen drastic growth and success with their relations with Asian countries, such as China. Back in 2012, the two countries signed a handful of agreements stating partnerships in sectors, such as tourism, health and economic. As ties with China continue, Costa Rica is now focusing on building a lucrative partnership with Japan along with a number of other Asian countries.
“Strengthening trade ties with Japan is part of our central government efforts to diversify our economy and strengthen both trade and political ties,” said Foreign Trade Minister Alexander Mora.
Costa Rica is making sure to take advantage of any opportunity to get into Asian markets. For example, Costa Rican importers entered a lucrative chance to get their products into the large Asian consumer market. For example, Costa Rican pineapple exporters were recently granted import access to China.
Another opportunity to create lucrative arrangements for Costa Rican interests is tourism and the country is definitely taking advantage of this opportunity. In fact, recent data shows that the country’s brand is one of the fastest growing in the Americas. The brand, “Essential Costa Rica” has jumped more than 10 spots as one of the top tourism destinations. With such momentum, Costa Rica is now hoping to attract more visitors from Asia.
Building stronger relations with Asia is important for Costa Rica. A 2016 report by the Latin America Economic Growth Initiative explained that Latin American countries must “adapt to the growth and development of Asian countries.”
It is important that Latin American countries remain attentive to the economic doings of Asia. There have been several instances in the past that has reminded the Latin America region of the impact that Asian countries can have on it. For example, in 2012, one of the biggest companies with operations in Costa Rica decided to move their business to Asia for cheaper wages and larger workforce. It was then that tech giant, Intel announced that it was closing its microprocessor plant in the country. The action was a wake up call on the reality of the global economy and a reminder that the country would need to do more to succeed.
Costa Rica knows that their country’s economic stability relies on adapting to the Asian population. The country also realizes that by using tourism to attract more visitors from Asia, they are not only gaining more revenue but taking away from one of their competitors. Ironically, Asian countries are some of Costa Rica’s biggest competitors when it comes to tourism numbers. The 2017 Travel Trends report from the Latin American Tourism Association reveals that Asia remains in the lead with 21 percent of responses claiming that they have chose to visit Asia in the past two years. These respondents also admitted that they considered visiting a Latin American country instead, but decided on an Asian country instead.
However, it is unclear why this is so. In fact, many critics of this have pointed out that Asia has a more tainted history than Costa Rica. For example, historic events continue to plague Asian relations to this day. The most controversial event is Rape of Nanking. This dispute massacre took place at the end of the Second Sino-Japanese war, but continues to affect relations between certain Asian populations to this day. China claims that as the Old Japanese Army celebrated a bloody victory in Shanghai, they decided to continue the destruction in the Chinese capital city of Nanking. In anticipation of the Japanese arrival, the city was evacuated of all experienced fighters and left defenseless. During a three week period, China claims that around 300,000 Chinese citizens were raped and killed by the hands of the Japanese. Many criticize China’s claims because of the impossibility of such a feat. The country also continues to edit the official victim list to this day. The Nanking Massacre has become a source of animosity and contention in the Asian region.
Costa Rica’s efforts to gain more Asian visitors would also help makes its tourism numbers higher its competitors. The visitors that choose to travel to Asian countries in lieu of Costa Rica have very similar expectations of their trips. According to the Latin American Tourism Association’s 2017 Travel Trends report, “the types of trips taken bear a striking similarity to the types of trips taken in Latin America, with key themes including culture, history & heritage, walking & trekking and wildlife & nature.”
Costa Rica offers something from all of these themes. The country offers rich culture, a proud heritage and a deep history that is present in its landmarks and scenery. When it comes to wildlife and nature, Costa Rica has more than enough options. Ecotourism is one of the most attractive points used to advertise the country to foreign visitors. With plenty of national parks and protected wildlife areas, Costa Rica has become a pioneer in this growing form of tourism. It is this unique offering that Costa Rica hopes will allow it to continue to stand out among other Latin countries. The numbers are impressive. Costa Rica is home to 27 national parks, 32 protected zones, 58 wildlife refuges, 15 wetland areas/mangroves, 11 forest reserve and so much more unique natural habitats throughout its borders.
This move to focus on tourism is bound to be a successful choice for Costa Rica. The country may of started out as a primarily agriculture and manufacturing based economy, but it is quickly realizing its niche in the tourism sector.
With natural beauty, unique scenery and friendly people, Costa Rica has set the stage to make the country more attractive to visitors. As the country begins to work on strengthening ties with Asia, it is also looking forward to welcoming more tourists into its borders as the country becomes more attractive to the Asian population.