Costa Rica Sustainable Tourism

Sustainable tourism is tourism development that tries to avoid damage to the environment, economy, and the cultures of the locations where it is implemented. The goal of sustainable tourism is to ensure that development that takes place is done in a way to ensure a positive experience for the local people; tourism companies; and tourists alike. Despite this optimistic objective, sustainable tourism is still not widely understood throughout the world. Costa Rica is at the forefront of sustainable tourism.

“Costa Rica Sustainable Tourism” does not necessarily mean ‘ecotourism’. Ecotourism became a popular term in the 80’s as a kind of tourism that focused exclusively on wildlife, nature, or exotic cultures.

Recent research, however, has indicated that such tourism may not actually be good for environment, or for the people who experience this attention. Sustainable tourism is an attempt to improve the impacts of all types of tourism, and this entails finding ways to build better partnerships between tourism companies and local governments.

But how can sustainable tourism be achieved?

It requires cooperation between concerned companies and the managers of destinations. It does not, however, require a marked interest from travelers. Acting responsibly as a tourism company should be the goal of all travel related companies. Travelers and the tourism market benefit from the responsible way in which each trip is carried out.



  • 980 million people travelled internationally in 2011 ( a 4% increase over 2010) and this is expected to reach 1.5 billion by 2020
  • The average international tourist receipt is over US$700 per person
  • Travel and tourism represents approximately 10% of total global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (if it include tourism related business (eg catering, cleaning)
  • The global travel and tourism industry creates approximately 10% of the world’s employment (direct & indirect)
  • At least 25 million people spread over 52 countries are displaced by violence, persecution and/or disasters – tourism receipts in every country are affected by this.


  • The average Canadian household used 326 liters of water per day….a village of 700 in a developing country uses an average of 500 litres of water per month AND a luxury hotel room guest uses 1800 litres of water per person per night…
  • The average person in the UK uses approximately 150 litres of water per day – 3 times that of a local village in Asia
  • A species of animal or plant life disappears at a rate of one every three minutes
  • 70% of marine mammals are threatened
  • The Western world (with 17% of the worlds’ population) currently consumes 52% of total global energy.
  • 1 acre of trees absorbes 2. 6tonnes of CO2 per year
  • 58% of the worlds coral reefs are at risk. 2010 was the warmest year on record
  • Seawater is expected to rise 70 cm in the next 10 years
  • By 2050 climate change could have directly led to the extinction of 30% of species, the death of 90% of coral reefs and the loss of half the Amazon rainforest.
  • Since 1970 a third of the natural world has been destroyed by human activity
  • Half the world’s population lives in urban areas and this figure is expected to increase. In Latin America and the Caribbean, 76% of the population live in urban areas
  • By 2036, there will be 1200 million cars on earth – double the amount today
  • A European uses 14x more energy than someone living in India
  • For every 1 degree rise in temperature above 34 degrees Celsius, yields of rice, maize and wheat in tropical areas could drop by 10%
  • Every day we dump 90 million tons of carbon pollution into our atmosphere
  • Although 70% of the earth’s surface is water, only 3% is potable

Sources: FOC, 2002, WTO, 2000 & 2002, UNWTO, 2011,, 2004, UN, 2003, Gov’t of Canada, 2005, Tourism Concern, 2011, Science Msusuem, 2006, Reefs at Risk, WRI,2011)

Sustainable Tourism and a sustainable way of living are the only real future we have on planet Earth. Travel responsibly today to help future travelers see what you saw tomorrow.

Costa Rica has been a leader in both sustainable tourism and eco tourism. We are not perfect, but our entire country is moving towards a brighter tomorrow with goals such as being the first “carbon neutral” country on the planet by 2020. Already we are 85% carbon neutral and we are proud of our commitments.

Join us on your own sustainable adventures and learn the wonders of nature within our borders.