Costa Rica Sustainable Tourism

Posted by on Apr 17, 2014 in Costa Rica Eco Lodges | Comments Off on Costa Rica Sustainable Tourism

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has defined Sustainable Tourism as  “tourism that respects both local people and the traveler, cultural heritage and the environment”. Sustainability in itself means satisfying the current needs of the society as well as making sure that the future generation will find enough resources after we are gone. That is, we take only what we need without exploitation thus sustainability is one of the best models of development in our society.

sustainable-tourism-costa-ricaSustainability in tourism means a balanced interaction between the three basic factors of tourism

1. Improving the quality of life of the local communities.

2. Natural and cultural resources being used appropriately

3. Sustainable Economic growth which improves other national development programs.

Sustainable tourism in Costa Rica

Costa Rica has emerged as a leading global state with sustainable tourism. This is due to how they manage their projects in the field of tourism. They have managed to carry out a responsible tourism sector with the following factors;

1. A tourism sector that promotes efficient use and conservation of resources.

2. A tourism sector that serves the community and takes care of the environment.

3. Creating better places for people to live in, and better places to visit.

The Certificate of Sustainable Tourism

sustainable-tourism-in-costa-ricaThe Costa Rican Board of Tourism had the Certificate for Sustainable Tourism Program (CIST) implemented to encourage businesses and people in Costa Rica to make sustainability a necessary and practical reality in the field of tourism. It also gives a platform for business competitiveness thus resulting in businesses aiming higher in their ways of providing sustainability. This program aims at helping the tourism business take a perspective on maintenance of the countries’ culture, environment and community on long –time basis. The rating of this certificate is on how well the business comply with  sustainable practices. It measures the infrastructure and operation systems of the business; the way the company interacts with the environment that surrounds them; the degree of allowing their clients to become participants in sustainable policies; and their interaction with the general community or society that surrounds them.

The rating of CST on the businesses is from 0 to 5. Business that have better sustainable practice level are given higher ratings. Various questions are addressed based on how the company provides the model of sustainability and scores awarded. Level 1 tourism business being a basic one and an outstanding one being the level 5.

The rating is done in percentage before being rated in levels. For instance on the evaluation criteria, a hotel that receives 20 to 39 percentile is graded as level 1 and has just started taking the first steps towards sustainability. 40 to 59 percentile rating grants the hotel a level 2 rating meaning that they have a bit embraced the concept of sustainability. 60 to 79 percentile rating means that the hotel gets a rating of level 3 and have some sustainable guidelines almost implemented. The best rating is in 95 and above percentile and are given a level 5 meaning they are outstanding and have most of the factors of sustainability already implemented.

Individual contribution in sustainability in Costa Rica

costa-rica-sustainableThe Costa Rican tourism companies in collaboration with the government have provided guidelines to visitors and local people about how they can each embrace sustainability in the place they live and the destinations they visit.

  1. Respect culture. Take it upon yourself to respect the customs and traditions of the region you are staying or the place you are visiting. Take time to learn about the language they speak and learn about their good and bad behaviors. Implement the good when you interact with them and leave the bad ones. Take time to dress appropriately.
  2. Reduce waste. Most companies are encouraging their clients and the local people to embrace the concept of reusing and recycling products that they use. They are also encouraged to use rechargeable batteries, use water sparingly, reduce packaged materials and use durable water bottles. For those in the hotels they are encouraged to switch off the air conditioners and the lights when they leave their rooms.
  3. Practice environmentalism. Visitors and local people should choose practices that take little or no fuel e.g. kayaking, horseback riding, biking and many other practices. They should not disturb the wildlife, litter and hike off the trails.
  4. Go local. Support business that are local. Eat at the local eateries, buy small goods from small vendors in the local area and stay at local hotels instead of international ones that will not bring income to the country.
  5. Give back. If you have benefited in the area you live or visit or you are willing to give back to the local community, you should can volunteer at a local health center or school, clean beaches or plant trees.

Challenges of sustainable tourism

Critics have it that certifying sustainability in tourism business is unattainable and flawed due to some structural characteristics in the tourism industry. For example in the case of physical limits fuel emission on cars and airplanes that the tourists use can never be fully eliminated. Also whenthe local government structures are absent they inhibit communities from developing their lands and their local economy, then in this case sustainable tourism is not a possibility. This is because the government has minimal intervention in the local tourism which has resulted into unawareness that resulted into the locals being unable to shape the path tourism in their local community should take. Also tourism should not only be rural since it has proven to bring unexpected negative consequences.

Sustainability in tourism is an agenda that is the forefront of the Costa Rican government and companies in their development efforts. This is because tourism in CostaRica is the main income earner of the country. As the sustainable tourism continues to grow in Costa Rica, our only wish is that tourists will increase more and in their implementation of the sustainable tourism sector, they might be able to grow their economic, society, ecological and cultural structure. In this case sustainable tourism should always be practiced.

For more information, please read this article: Sustainable Tourism CST