Hiking in green tropical jungle in Costa Rica, Central America (Shutterstock/Galyna Andrushko)
Costa Rica on Tuesday vehemently objected to the US government's decision to raise the alert level for tourists visiting the Central American country due to the risk of crime.
"We express energetic protest on the part of the Costa Rican government for the decision to change the recommendation level for American tourists," said foreign minister Manuel Ventura.
Ventura's statement came shortly after the US government issued a new travel advisory for visitors to Costa Rica.
According to the alert, "petty crime is the predominant threat for tourists in Costa Rica."
But the advisory warns that "armed robbery, homicide and sexual assault" could also occur.
Costa Rica also rose from Level 1, the lowest level, to Level 2 on the US State Department's travel alert scale. The highest is Level 4, which recommends no visiting.
The Central American country, known for its natural resources and beaches, attracts 1.2 million US tourists each year, according to official figures. In 2019, a total of more than 3 million foreign tourists visited.
"The change is surprising, because it puts Costa Rica -- which ended 2019 with a rate of 11 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants -- on par with countries on the continent that are among the most violent in the world," the Costa Rican foreign ministry said in a statement.
Data from the Ministry of Public Service indicates that there were 688 cases of theft of mobile phones, passports and money from tourists in 2019 -- only 0.02 percent of visitors to Costa Rica.
Tourism in Costa Rica has been shaken in recent years by several murders of female tourists, as well as sexual violence, including a Venezuelan-American woman who was killed near her hotel outside of the capital San Jose.
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