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Tourism + Conservation = Ecotourism

FInal project for Costa Rican Culture Class April 6, 2011.
by

Amanda Gates

on 12 April 2011

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Transcript of Tourism + Conservation = Ecotourism

C R osta ica "In Costa Rica we have a long tradition of receiving tourists with open arms. It doesn't matter what you are looking for: adventure or rest; beaches, mountains, rivers or volcanoes… I invite you to share all the richness that nature spread in this tropical land full of contrasts." - Carlos Ricardo Benavides, Ministro Turismo What is Ecotourism?



1998 943,000 884
1999 1,032,000 1,036
2000 1,100,000 1,138

(American Embassy, San José, 2001) Boom! Number of Visitors to Costa Rica Tourism Revenue (Millions of Dollars) "In Costa Rica we have a long tradition of receiving tourists with open arms. It doesn't matter what you are looking for: adventure or rest; beaches, mountains, rivers or volcanoes… I invite you to share all the richness that nature spread in this tropical land full of contrasts."
- Carlos Ricardo Benavides, Ministro Turismo "Is the poster child ECOTOURISM!" Annual variation of consumer price index (CPI) in %.
Source: Costa Rica Central Bank Why is it so popular? Ecotourism is: "Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people." (TIES, 1990) Tourism + Conservation = Ecotourism ¿Qué Pasa? http://www.ecotourism.org/site/c.orLQKXPCLmF/b.4835303/k.BEB9/What_is_Ecotourism__The_International_Ecotourism_Society.htm Defining "ECOTOURISM" a has proven to be a difficult task. There is no doubt that the debate on a common definition of what ecotourism is or is not will continue. often remote areas
inhabited or uninhabited
usually under some kind of environmental protection Honey's 7 defining points:
Ecotourism strives to minimize the adverse affects by:
using either recycled materials
local building materials
renewable sources of energy
recycling and safe disposal of waste and garbage
environmentally and culturally sensitive design
reduces and regulates the numbers and mode of behavior of tourists to ensure limited damage to the ecosystem. 1) Involves travel to natural destinations 2) Minimizes Impact (Tourism inevitably causes damage) 3) Builds Environmental Awareness Ecotourism means education, for both tourists and residents of nearby communities 4) Provides direct financial benefits for consevation Ecotourism helps raise funds for environmental protection, research and education through a variety of mechanisms, including park entrance fees, tour company, hotel, airline and airport taxes and voluntary contributions. 5) Provides financial benefits and empowerment for local people local community must be involved with and receive income and other tangible benefits(potable water, roads, health clinics, etc.) from the conservation area and it's tourist facilities

services should be run by or in partnership with local people

more importantly, if ecotourism is to be viewed as a tool for rural development, it must also help shift economic and political control to the locals

this is the most difficult and time-consuming principle in the economic equation and the one that most often is only partially met 6) Respects local cultures ecotourism stives to be culturally respectful and have a minimal effect on both the natural environment and the human population of a host country
Part of being a responsible ecotourist is learning beforehand about the local customs, respecting dress codes and other social norms and not intruding on the community unless either invited or as part of a well organized tour. 7) Supports human rights and democratic movements ecotourism demands a more holistic approach to travel, one in which participants strive to respect, learn about and benefit both the local environment and local communities

ecotourist need to be sensitive to the host country's political environment and social climate and need to consider the merits of international boycotts called for by those supporting democratic reforms, majority rule, and human rights "The practice of low-impact, educational, ecologically and culturally sensitive travel that benefits local communities and host countries"
(Honey, 1999) Ecotourism has become one of the fastest-growing sectors of the tourism industry, growing annually by 10-15% worldwide (Miller, 2007) 1955: A law was passed that declared areas within a radius of 2 kilometres of volcanic craters to be national parks. In the same year the Costa Rican Institute of Tourism (ICT) was founded.

1960’s: Costa Rica became aware that tourism could be an important source of income. The slogan of that time "The Garden of the Americas" already demonstrated a willingness to develop ecological tourism

1977: the National Park Services (SPN) was created

1980’s: Economic boom in the sector of tourism began

Slowly, Costa Rica’s rich biodiversity was being discovered as an important asset and plans for its protection were compiled

1998: the organisation of all natural reservations was reorganised under the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC – Sistema Nacional de Areas de Conservación)

1990’s: the government promoted tourism development on a large scale

2007 there were 1.9 million visitors in Costa Rica, thereby contributing with 8% of the GNP and around 13% of the country’s employment.

Today, tourism has become the primary source of income History of Tourism in C.R. More than 1/4 of the territory is protected Costa Rica is en route to becoming the
first carbon neutral country by 2021 Costa Rica has over 160 national parks, refuges and other preserved natural areas While Costa Rica covers only 0.04% of the earth's land area, a stunning four percent of the world's of the world's terrestrial diversity is located here! Uniting Conservation, Communities and Sustainable Travel PROGRAMS in Costa Rica
PROMOTING ecotourism The "Bandera Azul" Program Implemented in 1996

Intended to promote development while reducing the negative impacts of mass tourism

Helps the local community to work to protect the environment & reduce pollution

Evaluates the environmental quality of coastal areas: beaches and sea water, access and quality of drinking water, water and waste management, security, and environmental education

Depending on the degree of compliance against the optimal criteria established, a certain number of stars are awarded to the Blue Flag
It is a program that seeks to categorize and certify each tourism company according to the degree to which its operations comply to a model of sustainability.
Five fundamental aspects are evaluated:

1. Physical-biological parameters
Evaluates the interaction between the company and its surrounding natural habitat.

2. Infrastructure and services (Exlusive for Lodging Companies)
Evaluates the management policies and the operational systems within the company and its infrastructure, regarding the energy saving, water polluting and waste handling policies and technology.

3. Service Management (Exclusive for Tour Operator Agencies)
Comprises the process by means of which, the company considering all the elements internal and external, and designs a turistic product in accordance with the trends of the market and the proper characteristics of the country and places in where goes to operate.

4. External Client
Evaluates the interaction of the company with its clients in terms of how much it allows and invites the client to be an active contributor to the company's policies of sustainability.

5. Socio-economic environment
Evaluates the identification and interaction of the establishment with the adjacent communities, analysing for example, the degree in that the tourist companies answer to the growth and development of the region, with the generation of new employment or the achievement of benefits in pro of the collectivity. What is CST all about? The Certification for Sustainable Tourism Program (CST) is a product of the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT).

CST was designed to differentiate companies among the tourism sector businesses based on the degree to which they comply with a sustainable model of natural, cultural and social resource management.

CST is regulated by the Costa Rican National Accreditation Commission and consists of a scale of 5 "levels" of sustainable tourism achievement. http://www.turismo-sostenible.co.cr/en/ While the concept of ecotourism appears to be a good idea, It seems to me that tourists in Costa Rica are as numerous and as distructive as the leaf-cutter ants who's trails scar the forest floor. "Ecotourism" in Costa Rica is booming, but how environmentally friendly is ecotourism? The roots are planted in the idea of conservation, education and sustainable development, but its popularity with tourists has attracted many developers and tour-operators who see the "green" movement as a way to bring in more greenbacks. IS ECOTOURISM FACT OR FICTION?
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