European tourists have voted Costa Rica their favourite Central American destination … with their feet.
A total of 248,996 Europeans visited the republic last year, with a further 172,160 visitors passing through second-placed Guatemala.
The new statistics come in a report published this week by the Central American Tourism Promotion Agency.
It shows that tourist arrivals in the region overall rose by 16% from 717,883 in 2011, to 832,576 last year.
Holidaymakers from the UK made up 7% of visitors to the region, which also includes Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama.
Costa Rica boasts four trump cards in making it so alluring to European tourists on group tours or family holidays.
Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is a stunning mountain rainforest habitat to over 3,000 species of animals and plants. Being shrouded in the clouds lends a unique air of mystery to it.
The Tortuguero National Park, with its meandering rivers and lovely lagoons, is a vital turtle breeding ground in the Caribbean, being the home of four of the world's eight species of marine turtles.
Puerto Viejo offers world-class surfing, snorkelling and diving among the many reefs in its blue waters, as well as mountain biking, horseback riding and cultural visits to meet indigenous people.
Nearby Cahuita National Park, protecting Costa Rica's biggest and only coral reef, mixes gorgeous beaches with lush coastal rainforests to provide a truly wonderful relaxing atmosphere.
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