|Costa Rica Tourism|
Tourism in Costa Rica is one of the fastest growing economic sectors of the country and by 1995 became the largest foreign exchange earner.Since 1999, tourism earns more foreign exchange than bananas, pineapples and coffee combined.The tourism boom began in 1987,with the number of visitors up from 329,000 in 1988, through 1.03 million in 1999, to a peak of 2.09 million foreign visitors in 2008, allowing the country to earn $2.14 billion in that year. In 2008, tourism contributed with 7.2% of the country's GDP, 22.7% of foreign exchange generated by all exports, and in 2005 it was responsible for 13.3% of direct and indirect employment.
Since the late 1980s Costa Rica became a popular nature travel destination, and its main competitive advantage is its well-established system of national parks and protected areas,covering around 23.4% of the country's land area,the largest in the world as a percentage of the country's territory,and home to a rich variety of flora and fauna, in a country that has only 0.03% of the world's landmass, but that is estimated to contain 5% of the world's biodiversity. The country also has plenty of beaches, both in the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, within short travel distances, and also several volcanoes that can be visited with safety. By the early 1990s, Costa Rica became known as the poster child of ecotourism, with tourist arrivals reaching an average annual growth rate of 14% between 1986 to 1994.