A marriage between economy and environmental can describe what has been coined as sustainable tourism and in no country is this marriage more prevalent than in Costa Rica. Read on to find out how Costa Rica’s sustainable tourism has made this Latin American country one of the world’s leaders in green culture.
Costa Rica may have become the most peaceful country in the world – despite being geographically located between Panama and Nicaragua, two nations which have had their share of civil war. But today it is better known for its environmentally-focused tourism. Costa Rica’s sustainable tourism, in fact, has made this erstwhile backwater colony of Spain a foremost advocate of conservation.
Understanding Costa Rica’s Sustainable Tourism
Most people have yet to become familiar with sustainable tourism, the concept of engaging in tourism without inflicting damage to natural resources and the environment of a local community. Sustainable tourism promotes activities that are environmentally-conscious based on the principles of conservation to ensure that future generations can enjoy similar tourism opportunities, whether as travel, business or advocacy.
Costa Rica takes a proactive stand in abstaining from unwarranted and unnecessary destruction, alteration or demolition of natural, cultural, and social resources. Sustainability-focused programs in Costa Rica cover a wide range of various categories but have put emphasis on those which can accomplish synchronicity among economic health, cultural, and environmental concerns. The country has a Certification of Sustainable Tourism or CST to achieve this.
What CST Covers
A CST has a program in Costa Rica to balance the major elements of general sustainability: economic, environmental, and socio-cultural in a holistic manner. Economic sustainability in Costa Rica supports a definitive level of indefinite economic production to allow its per capita income and average GDP to increase steadily.
Costa Rica does this by providing a tax base which is sufficient and stable for capital growth generation with consistency and to operate services to the community. Costa Rica’s businesses have a steady and profitable growth as well as total return in investment for shareholders. The Costa Rican economy does not only make the effort to survive but also evolves in the process.
The steady growth of businesses in Costa Rica provides employment opportunities, especially in the tourism sector, to keep the statistics above poverty line for its citizens. This links it directly to that of the country’s socio-cultural sustainability efforts to support both equal and individual opportunities. In turn, human rights are protected and diversity is respected.
Environmental and Socio-Cultural Sustainabilities in Tourism
Socio-cultural sustainability in Costa Rica has provided its citizens an education system to better learn and appreciate the preservation of the country’s culture and traditions in the midst of modernity.
Costa Rica sustainable tourism encourages, supports, and protects various aspects of its meso-American heritage in values, oral history, cuisine, artwork, legends, crafts, and music.
Costa Rica’s environmental sustainability is directly associated with its businesses and tourism since both depend heavily on healthy natural resources of ecosystems like ample biodiversity, fresh water, fertile soil, and clean air. These natural capital resources are kept unpolluted by Costa Rica’s CST programs such as recycling, composting, water conservation, and organic agriculture, among others.
Current Sustainable Tourism Efforts
Costa Rica’s efforts to achieve sustainable tourism include being an active member of the organization called “One Percent for the Planet.”
Both government and private companies donate, as its name says, one percent of their annual profits to “One Percent for the Planet” to support its numerous environmental causes. Here is a short list of current Costa Rica sustainable tourism efforts:
- Bio-fuel: the majority of Costa Rican businesses already use biomass fuel to help reduce the country’s carbon footprint.
- Local companies produce biodegradable soaps, toilet paper, shampoos and other toiletries, bug repellants, and other similar items for use in hotels and restaurants.
- Businesses patronize artisan artists, crafters, and food purveyors by using and/or selling their products in stores, restaurants, shops, hotels, etc.
- Composting and recycling programs of tourism-related establishments are encouraged and supported by the government.
- Purchase of genuine archaeological artifacts as “souvenirs” is discouraged. Buying other souvenirs produced from endangered species is discouraged as well.
- Taking flora and fauna indigenous to Costa Rica is prohibited without permission.
- The use of recyclable plastic bottles as well as returnable glass containers of water, beverages, and food is encouraged among locals and tourists alike; turnover of aluminum cans for recycling is also welcomed.
- Costa Rica’s CST requires hotels to actively persuade, encourage, and provide their guests the opportunities to contribute to and participate in sustainable tourism efforts.
- Quality control of wastewater in hotels, restaurants, hostels, lodging facilities, and other tourism-related establishments is encouraged.
- The Costa Rica Tourist Board or ICT issues Tourism Sustainability Certificates (TSCs) for classification of tourist companies based on the sustainability levels they have achieved in managing natural, socio-cultural, and environmental resources.
- Costa Rica has established a program called “Ecological Blue Flag” to honor sound ecological practices as well as coastal protections and community efforts.
Expansion to Agro-ecotourism
Costa Rica is dedicated to the conservation of biodiversity and sustainable livelihoods through transformation of land-use practices, consumer behavior, and business practices, is a success story as far as being a tourism brand is concerned.
For 20 years now, Costa Rica has become the preeminent sustainable tourism destination in the world.
Supported by political stability, local hospitality, and abundant natural resources that continue to be conserved and preserved from a fully supportive government.
Costa Rica’s sustainable tourism progress has been expanding lately to include agro ecotourism in which tourists are introduced to farms owned by local families to encourage interest in Costa Rican rural lifestyle and heritage while generating additional income for these family-owned farms.