At Cayuga, this is a recurring question these days. Does it make sense for us to promote domestic travel to our hotels amidst the rising Covid-19 cases in the country?
During the past two months, the number of new cases in Costa Rica have increased. Just like in the rest of the world, the vast majority of new cases are concentrated in crowded neighborhoods in San Jose, where the economic level is very low. However, the rural and coastal areas are boasting a lower or an almost zero-infection rate. This just happens to be where our hotels and lodges are located.
The government has declared that on August 1st the two international airports will reopen. However, due to the rising cases around the world, the number of airlines that will actually arrive to Costa Rica will remain to be very few. The number of international tourists will continue to be almost nonexistent for the next few months. For this reason, we will happily continue to focus our marketing efforts on Costa Ricans and residents, who although they may not be able to travel abroad, will definitely enjoy the privilege of exploring their own country. And the response of this market has highly exceeded our expectations.
Thanks to the overwhelming response of local tourism, their financial contributions have allowed us to raise salaries, rehire staff, increase orders with local suppliers, and inject money into the local economies. And in return, those local visitors have received a break from staying at home, while enjoying the beaches and forests at its best. Never have we seen so much wildlife around our hotels and beaches as right now. Just six months ago, the national parks were crowded with tourists. Now, they are a pristine paradise with only occasional visitors. Just like the residents of Paris and London got to take a break from the thousands of yearly visitors, so will the Costa Rican people and residents get to experience their own country with fewer tourists.
Our local guests tell us that they love the fresh typical food and the experience of enjoying their luxurious rooms. But what really surprises them is the genuine service that they receive from our staff. They are able to relax, let go, refocus, and “forget” for a while. They love the concept of being outside in nature and in the sun. In today’s reality, it is definitely an added bonus to boost your immune system.
It seems like the philosophy of “Strong Today – Extraordinary Tomorrow” that we adopted earlier in this crisis is paying off. We successfully implemented a “Zero Risk – Zero Hassle” policy for the year 2020, allowing our guests to cancel any time they wanted, without having to fear penalties. And we successfully implemented rigorous sanitary measures that go way beyond government requirements to keep our guests and ourselves healthy. But most importantly, our hotels and lodges look new since during the months of business closure we maintained our staff working on upkeeping the properties. It was a smooth transition into bringing back the genuine and authentic service experience that the Cayuga Collection is famous for.
So going back to the original question of this blog. We believe that it is totally ok to travel domestically right now.
If done sensibly, local tourism is a way to bring back some of the very needed jobs and economic activities to the rural parts of the country. We must learn to co-exist with the virus as it seems like it will be around for a while. And that means we need to be very careful about how we do business in terms of our sanitary measures. It is not rocket science and by keeping our distance, not breaking social bubbles, frequent handwashing and wearing masks or visors we are minimizing further infections. At Cayuga, our hygiene standards were already high before. It was easy for us to adapt them to the new reality. Our lobbies and restaurants are outdoors and very well ventilated offering an ideal environment.
Our guest’s physical and mental health will only improve by traveling and experiencing nature, while appreciating outdoor activities. And our local economies will surely be grateful.
A special thanks to all the travelers that have traveled domestically in the past months to support their local tourism industry and to all the hotels, resorts, and lodges around the world that have taken this seriously and implemented strict sanitary measures to keep us all healthy.
If everybody is doing their part by not taking this subject lightly, we can move forward. Baby steps, but in the right direction.