Friday 21st October 2016                 Change text size:

Sustainable holiday destinations: Costa Rica

Photo: Mariela Steller via

Costa Rica is increasingly a popular destination for sustainable holidays, with its attractive and alluring scenery and a multitude of pioneering programmes that deliver exhilarating and sustainable experiences for tourists.

The country is one of seven located in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south-east. Its capital city, San Jose, is brimming with culture, holds a strong influence as a prominent Latin America destination and houses many stunning examples of European inspired architecture, like the National Theatre of Costa Rica.

Rural, nature and eco-tourism are all incredibly important ingredients to Costa Rica, and there happens to be a myriad of nature-based adventures options to discover. From exploring its glorious beach spots and whitewater rivers, staying in isolated eco-resorts, to full on outdoor action coming in the form of bungee jumping, windsurfing, kayaking and rafting.

Its rich, diverse landscape is made up of vast protected areas, eight biological reserves and 20 natural parks. One of its most well-known parks is Tortuguero national park, comprised of land and marine areas and bursting with tropical forests and lagoons. Its major attraction is the sea turtle nesting of several endangered species, such as the green sea turtle.

Visitors can experience a rainforest adventure and aerial tram excursion through the rainforest canopy at a private forest reserve, bordering the Braulio Carrillo national park. Braulio Carrillo national park is the largest national park in the central Costa Rica region, and includes unique protected areas with around 515 native and migratory bird species.

The Costa Rican Tourism Board has integrated a wide range of resources and programmes which are crucial to sustainable development of tourism in Costa Rica.

With regards to its ecology and vibrant biodiversity, the Blue Flag Ecological Programme was created in 2002 in response to hazards from beach and water pollution. It utilises specific criteria such as the quality of potable and ocean water and coastal sanitation to rate the environmental condition of individual beaches. In addition to this, in 2007 the government announced the grand ambition of becoming the world’s first carbon neutral country by 2020.

An alliance for the enhancement of community rural tourism (TRC) was launched by Costa Rica in 2003, recognising the strain that tourism can place on local communities. This initiative has been used as a tool to generate local sustainable development, participation and investment in the region.

What the country’s tourist board says about Costa Rica

“We look forward to receiving more and more conscious tourists that care about the social entrepreneurship responsibility of where they are staying, as well as tourists concerned with the protection of natural resources and participation in community´ activities.”

Alberto Lopez, Costa Rica Tourism Board

Further reading:

Sustainable holiday destinations: the Azores

Life changing travel and travel changing lives

UNESCO and UNWTO team up to promote sustainable tourism

German tourist board recognised with international sustainability award

The Guide to Sustainable Tourism 2014

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