National Post

Costa rican cancon

- Ian Nathanson, Postmedia News

Canadians looking for an escape to exotic southern surroundin­gs can count themselves among significan­t contributo­rs to Costa Rica’s tourist industry.

According to Roberto Dormond- Cantú, ambassador of Costa Rica to Canada, “the second- largest group of visitors are Canadians. Last year, Costa Rica received a total 2.5 million visitors; almost 200,000 of those were Canadians.”

The English- language Tico Times says that only the U. S. prevailed with more than 930,000 visitors.

Beyond the obvious reasons for Canadian tourists flocking to Costa Rica — the allure of viewing rainforest­s, volcanoes, palm- tree- laden beaches, plus perfect locales for snorkellin­g and surfing — Dormond- Cantú believes Canada and Costa Rica share many similar values among its peoples.

“We feel very comfortabl­e among each other,” says Dormond- Cantú. “There is praise for the environmen­t, praise for outdoor living. People choose to visit Costa Rica for its infrastruc­ture, quality, safety and certainly for its friendline­ss.

“- Our unique model for sus t- ainable tourism attracts a re sponsible tourist that demands excellent service, but also wants to enjoy the unique natural beauty.”

And like Canada, Costa Ricans enjoy a socialized health-care s-ystem, as well as a private sys tem. The country, according to Dormond-Cantú, has committed to offer top-notch health care to all its citizens, but visitors can also take advantage of the highqualit­y, low-cost care to be found.

“We made a pledge that n- obody gets screwed due to ill ness,” says Dormond- Cantú.

“In fact, this has created a great opportunit­y for medical travel. We have received 50,000 visitors for medical procedures.”

Dormond- Cantú assures travellers that Costa Rica remains a safe destinatio­n.

“We are a nation committed t- o peace, solidarity and promo tion of human rights,” he says. “Costa Rica is the safest country in Latin America. We promote peace within our borders, with our neighbours and the rest of mankind.”

While Spanish is considered the country’s primary language, Dormond- Cantú says a rise in educationa­l standards — as well as tourism — means that more C- osta Ricans are speaking Eng lish, and some French.

“If people want to practise their Spanish in Costa Rica, it won’t be so hard because people in Costa R-ica want to practise their Eng lish,” Dormond-Cantú says.

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