Central American destination pioneers ecotourism as a route to social progress
In the Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, Costa Rica is setting new standards for tourism founded on environmental and social sustainability. Indeed, the Central American nation recently won a UNWTO Award for Innovation based on a Social Progress Index measuring the well-being of individuals living in tourism destinations.
In this vein, Mauricio Ventura, Tourism Minister of Costa Rica, and Alejandro Castro, Chief Marketing Director of the Costa Rica Tourism Institute (ICT), delivered a press conference at ITB Berlin on ‘Costa Rica – sustainable and diverse 365 days a year’. “This is part of our DNA,” Castro told ITB Berlin News, adding that Costa Rica was arguably the world’s first destinations to build a travel industry around ecotourism. With Costa Rica’s updated Sustainability Certification Program (CST) 2.0, Castro said that “visitors can be completely confident that they are going to a property that benefits the environment, society, and the economy.”
Protecting the environment is fundamental in what Castro called “a very concentrated destination” that includes around 5% of the world’s biodiversity. “We also have a lot of cultures that are merged in this country,” he added. “Having all sorts of environments and cultures and different tastes allows tourists to experience many things within the same destination. You can visit an active volcano, have a mud bath, hot springs and then relax at the beach.”
It’s no wonder that Costa Rica boasts one of the highest average stays in the world at 13.1 days – among European source markets it’s even higher, with a 17 day average