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Being a small country located in the heart of Central America, Costa Rica is leading the way for sustainability and ecotourism for the region, and even the rest of the world. Tourism (and increasingly ecotourism) is one of the main economic activities of the country. Because of this, the government is dedicated to preserving its main attractions: nature and wildlife. So if you fancy tropical forests, winding rivers and getting up close and personal with nature, then this is the dream place for you to visit.
Sustainable Tourism Certification
In 1995, Costa Rica set up its Sustainable Tourism Certification, to measure the level of sustainability of the tourism industry (including hotels, tours, restaurants, transportation, etc.).
There are three main areas which are assessed as part of the certification: environmental, social/cultural and economic.
The programme has five levels (or leaves) which indicate the degree of commitment and accomplishments in each area. The Costa Rican Tourism Board rewards them by giving them publicity in the industry fairs or trade shows, among other benefits. So, everyone is committed to this and can see the long-term gains all round.
“21st-century tourism must be sustainable or it will no longer survive”
Having almost 40% of its territory protected, and 25% of its landmass being national parks and reserves, Costa Rica is a world leader in conservation policies and has a wide variety of parks, from tropical dry and cloud forests to wetlands.
This is thanks to Costa Rica’s microclimates that will take you from one climate to another (and everything in between), caused by a vast range of altitudes and having both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea either side.
Wildlife & community
No matter what part of Costa Rica you visit, be prepared to see beautiful wildlife, including four types of monkey, an array of birds, vast vegetation, plus lots, lots more (find out more here). With one of the world’s most bio-diverse regions, claiming 4% of the planet’s biodiversity, at every turn you’re likely to see incredible species that you won’t see in many other parts of the world.
Of course, don’t miss out on community ecotourism experiences. You’ll have the chance to visit coffee fields, pineapple plantations, local families and authentic country communities, giving you the opportunity to get closer to the real Costa Rica.