Help protect the destinations you love with eco-sustainable travel in Costa Rica!
Tourism is one of the largest and fastest growing industries in the world. Oftentimes the very things that attract the crowds–like biologically diverse habitats and indigenous cultures–are the things that are most affected by the influx of travelers. This “boom” of growth, especially in still developing areas, can place great strain on the local economy, environment and way of life. That is why sustainable tourism is so important: it helps protect the destinations we love, the cultures that attract us and tourism in general.
Sustainable tourism is the concept of visiting a place as a tourist and trying to make only a positive impact on the environment, society and economy. Tourism can involve primary transportation to the general location, local transportation, accommodations, entertainment, recreation, nourishment and shopping. (1)
Eco-Friendly Costa Rica
Sustainable tourism has become a buzzword and it doesn’t always mean what people think it does. Nowadays with green- and eco-friendly everything making headlines, everyone is scrambling to prove that they’re doing it too. With many companies and industries jumping on the bandwagon it’s hard to know who to trust.
Costa Rica has been a forerunner in sustainability and tourism from the start so it’s natural that this country would have a heads up on eco-friendly travel. With only .03% of the world’s surface area, Costa Rica is home to over 5% of the world’s biodiversity. That means there is a lot at stake.
Costa Rica has become an example for the world with nearly 30% of its land protected and for being the first country that has committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2021. In addition, over 90% of the electricity needed in the country is produced through renewable means like hydroelectric, geothermal and wind power. The government even offers incentives for eco-friendly practices, i.e. by buying back solar energy from users that have a surplus.
Thanks to all these efforts, Costa Rica is ranked 20th in the world (out of 130) on the WEC’s 2015 Energy Sustainability Index with a score of ABB. (2)
Lucky for eco-conscious travelers there are plenty of opportunities to partake in the efforts. Between choosing eco-friendly hotels and carbon-neutral travel options you can make some green choices from the start. If you’re more focused on how your trip will affect locals, then you can choose cultural tours and activities that will have a positive impact like volunteering. Visiting national parks is a great way to enjoy some of Costa Rica’s beauty while being sure your money is going to support something like the national park system.
If hands on is your style then be sure to include some time for volunteering. From rainforest reforestation to soup kitchens, there are plenty of ways to give back while you have the trip of a lifetime.
How to travel eco-sustainably
Sustainable tourists can reduce the impact of tourism in many ways: (1)
- informing themselves of the culture, politics, and economy of the communities visited
- anticipating and respecting local cultures, expectations and assumptions
- supporting the integrity of local cultures by favoring businesses which conserve cultural heritage and traditional values
- supporting local economies by purchasing local goods and participating with small, local businesses
- conserving resources by seeking out businesses that are environmentally conscious, and by using the least possible amount of non-renewable resources