Costa Rica continues to lead the way in sustainable tourism with the addition of two new areas to the country’s well-established Certification of Sustainable Tourism (CST) programme, which will now also regulate food establishments and coastal/marine tour operators. This addition will help promote the country’s traditional gastronomy and protect its rich marine heritage

More than 300 tourism businesses in the country, including accommodation, travel agencies, tour operators, rental car companies and theme parks, have achieved the certification since the CST programme was first introduced in 1997. The programme is recognised by the World Tourism Organisation as a pioneer in making the tourism industry more sustainable.

Businesses are evaluated according to their level of compliance to set standards in areas such as waste management, rational use of resources, protection of the environment, respect of local cultures and support to local communities, and given a one to five CST grade. The evaluation process is voluntary and free of charge, and businesses are re-evaluated every two years.

“Businesses that have achieved the CST show their commitment to sustainable practices and have helped differentiate our tourism offering and position our country as an example to others in sustainable development,” said Wilhelm von Breymann, Tourism Minister of Costa Rica.

A recent study published by economists from the Universities of Sonoma and Georgia showed that communities close to protected areas in Costa Rica have a lower level of poverty, thanks to the opportunities provided by ecotourism, a clear indication of how the sustainable development approach taken by the Government is helping the country’s economy.

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