More Britons are travelling to Costa Rica than ever before thanks to non-stop flights from London Gatwick, according to the country’s minister for tourism.

British Airways began flying to the Central American nation three years ago, prompting UK visitor numbers UK to rise sharply.

British Airways offers three weekly flights during low season, and five weekly flights in peak season between January and August.

During the first half of 2018, the number of British visitors is up 2.5%, compared to the same period last year. A total of 40,907 British visitors have travelled to the country so far this year.

Asked why the number had risen, Maria Amalia Revelo Raventos said: “I think it is because we did not have non-stop flights until recently that has prompted people to start talking about Costa Rica more.

“Brits do not want to spend their whole day taking connecting flights.”

Now Costa Rica has become a year-round destination, the UK is the second European market after France for the country, which has five million inhabitants.

The population of Costa Rica swells by 6% between January and August due to tourism, according to Raventos.

“We see airlines as our most important partners for the development as Costa Rica,” said Raventos, adding that 6% was sustainable rate of expansion.

She also added that Costa Rica was a principally a destination for millennials and families.

“What Costa Rica offers is a combination of natural beauty and lovely people,” she added. “Tourists come for the nature but then they fall in love with the people.”

This year two operators – Elegant Resorts and Titan Travel – have started selling Costa Rica products.

The Travel Weekly team is reporting extensively from this year’s World Travel Market, stay up to date on our live blog and event microsite