As one of the most popular travel destinations in the world, Costa Rica has been drawing in millions of visitors. In between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, the Latin American country is home to many of earth’s natural wonders that stretch from coast to coast. Nature lovers flock to the country as backpackers to visit protected national parks, wildlife reserves, and other protected lands. As a pioneer in ecotourism, more people choose to admire the forests, beaches, and participate in programs dedicated to preserving the environment.
What Is Ecotourism?
Tourism is usually connected to vacationing away from regular daily life and enjoying a change of scenery. The vacation aspect of tourism can influence travelers to feel free of any responsibility from their actions – including actions that impact the environment such as wastefulness, littering, and the like.
Ecotourism is environmentally responsible travelling with the goal to visit preserved, natural locations sustaining the life of the locals, as well as learning more about the importance of these places and future plans to keep nature intact.
Ecotourists travel and have the intent to do so by the following principles:
- Minimizing physical, behavioral, social, and psychological impacts
- Cultivating environmental and cultural awareness of respect
- Participating in positive experiences for both hosts and travelers
- Providing finances to conservation as well as to the local economy
- Creating memorable experiences that impact visitors and their sensitivity to the environmental, political, and social climate
- Designing, building, and using eco-friendly facilities
- Respecting the Indigenous People by working in collaboration
Overall, ecotourism means to use tourism to raise awareness of its environmental impact to ultimately minimize behavior that can bring damage the local environment and people.
Why is Costa Rica a Popular Ecotourism Destination?
It was as if Costa Rica was made for ecotourism with its diverse ecosystems, biodiversity, and its 26 National Parks, 58 wildlife refuges, 32 protected zones, 15 wetland areas, 11 forest reserves, and 8 biological reserves. Over 25% of the country’s land is protected from future development and prioritizes using numerous environmental initiatives to preserve nature as much as possible as well as minimizing their impact on the earth.
Since most of Costa Rica’s GDP comes from tourism, much of the country has been developed for just that with the many experiences it has to offer for travelers such as surfing at one of the gorgeous beaches, observing native sloths, monkeys, whales, birds, and other animals, and just exploring the many different landscapes across the country. Plus, it’s one of the most affordable travel destinations.
Blue and Green Sustainability
However, it’s not all blue and green in Costa Rica. Successful efforts to promote tourism brings more visitors than its 19,730 square miles can handle. With close to 3 million visitors a year, which is about half of the actual local population, constant development to accommodate them has actually posed a risk to the environment. Though there are legitimate ecotourist facilities and programs that are accredited with a Certification for Sustainable Tourism, other businesses just use the buzz words to attract more visitors.