Tourism involves the exploitation of the country’s resources, and it is important to do it in a responsible and sustainable way. At Costa Rica 4U, we are committed to the design and development of exciting new experiences in which we actively involve the local community in: Sustainable Tourism.
According to World Tourism Organizations (WTO) “Sustainable Tourism development meets the needs of tourist and host regions, while protecting and enhancing the opportunity for the future. It is envisaged as leading to management of all resources in such a way that economic, social and aesthetic needs can be fulfilled, while maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, and biological diversity and life support systems”.
Costa Rica 4U believes that both travellers and locals will benefit from the interaction of learning how to support Sustainable Tourism. Residents learn that their customs may be of interest to foreigners, and travellers obtain more in depth knowledge on the destination including the awareness of environmental, cultural, conservational and economic issues.
This new way of doing tourism is adding tangible value to the common structure of tourism services. The environmentally friendliness of tourism products is indeed building a competitive new market. Actually, consumers have a greater level of consciousness about the components in tourism services that do make a positive difference in the destination they visit.
This challenge allows us to take into consideration professional references and direct feedback from clients, resources as local communities and primary support service partners for the program development.
Certification programs and other voluntary initiatives provide guidance for responsible business practices, and could be used by these proactive entrepreneurs as a tool to communicate their sustainable tourism commitment in the marketplace. For this reason, Costa Rica 4U is one of Costa Rica's first Tour Operators achieving the official certification and is the only tour operator, which was evaluated at its four branch offices, its own car fleet, and its own mechanic garage.
The Certificate for Sustainable Tourism (CST) program consists of the categorizing and certification of tourist companies according to the degree to which their operations approach a model of sustainability in terms of a lesser impact on the natural, cultural and social resources of the country. In order to achieve this objective, four fundamental components of performance are evaluated:
1. Physical-biological Parameters
Evaluates the interaction of the company with its immediate environment, takes into consideration emissions, damage and pollution generated, as well as measures of conservation and management of risk to the environment.
2. Infrastructure and Services
Evaluates companies´ internal systems and processes, from the handling of waste to the use of efficient technologies, to save water and electricity and to the type of products or consumer goods their purchase and use.
3. External Clients
Considers the companies actions to urge, train and make guest aware of the importance and need to contribute to the efforts made by the establishment to: use water and electricity wisely; to respect ethical standards or codes of conducts when clients are visiting protected areas or communities.
4. Socio-economic environment
Evaluates the identification and interaction of the company with its areas of influence. It also includes evaluation of the business efforts to develop new projects and to achieve benefits for its communities.
The Costa Rican certification program has been a model and example for other Latin America countries, which have developed their own certification programs according to the Costa Rican CST’s structure.
The certificate reflects the level to which the company complies with the parameters of sustainability established in the CST standard. There are five levels; when a company achieves level 1 show that it has made the first step toward sustainable tourism. The following levels correspond to more advanced status, culminating with level 5, to achieve it would be considered a model of sustainable tourism.
The following table presents the different levels and the corresponding percentages of compliance with the standard. The percentage refers to the total number of points earned versus the total number of points applicable to that particular establishment in each category.
CST program has been designed for all types of companies in the tourism industry. The level assigned to any company will always be the lowest level achieved in any of the areas. It will encourage the company to advance towards the model of sustainability by giving the same degree of consideration and importance to each of the four areas evaluated.
The National Accreditation Commision grants CST certification. The commission in comprised of representatives from multiple sectors: the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT), the Costa Rican Ministry of the Environment and Energy (MINAE), the University of Costa Rica (UCR), the Central American Institute of Business Administration (INCAE), the National Chamber of Tourism (CANATUR), the Earth Council and the World Conservation Union (UICN).
The following Costa Rican Hotels have achieved the Certificate for Sustainable Tourism; they are classified by number of levels:
Level Five (The hotel is considered a model of sustainability)
|Hotel Villa Blanca.|
|Hotel Finca Rosa Blanca.|
|Hotel Parque del Lago.|
|La Laguna del Lagarto Lodge.|
|Hotel Belmar. Almendros & Corales|
|Hotel Sí Como No.|
|Hotel El Rodeo.|
|Hotel Palma Real.|
|Casa Conde Apartotel Suites.|
|Hotel Rosa del Paseo.|
|Hotel San José Palacio.|
|Hotel Tabacón Resort.|
|Natural Lodge Caño Negro.|
|Albergue Rara Avis.|
|La Quinta de Sarapiqui Lodge.|
|Centro Neotrópico Sarapiqui.|
|Ecolodge San Luis and Research Station.|
|Golfo Dulce Lodge.|
|Hotel Punta Leona.|
|Hotel Hacienda Punta Islita.|
|Hotel Garden Court & Casino.|
|Hotel Ramada Plaza Herradura.|
|Albergue Turístico El Marañón.|
|Apartotel El Sesteo.|
|Apartotel Los Yoses.|
|B&B Hipocampo de Oro.|
|Best Western Irazu.|
|Clarion Hotel by choice Hotel Amon Plaza.|
|Hotel 1942 Jade y Oro.|
|Hotel San Gildar.|
|Albergue La Catarata.|
|Albergue Observatorio Volcán Arenal.|
|Hotel y Restaurant Vista del Valle.|
|Hotel Casa Turire.|
|Hotel El Bambú.|
|Posada Volcán Poás.|
|Selva Verde Lodge.|
|Complejo Turístico El Sapo Dorado.|
|Cabinas Las Olas.|
|Hotel Lagarta Lodge.|
|Hotel Las Tortugas.|
|Hotel Pueblo Dorado.|
|Hotel Villa Baula.|
|Hotel Casa Camarona.|
|Hotel Fiesta Resort & Casino.|
Level One (It shows the first step towards sustainability)
|Hotel Rincón de San José.|
|Hotel La Garza del Platanar.|
|Hotel Villa Lapas.|
|Hotel y Villas Sol Playa Hermosa.|
Taking into consideration the importance of a tourist sector based on the concept of sustainable development, and thus conducting an essential role in the protection and conservation of natural resources, it is determined:
1. That all activities involved in the production process of the company are developed under the concept of sustainable development, keeping in mind the environmental and social-economic aspects as starting points in the formulation of strategies that guarantee high quality standards in each one of the services that are offered.
2. To encourage all company personnel to create and maintain an environmental culture that permits them to develop their work in the best possible way and to obey all the norms established with the objective to maintain a stable and healthy environment.
3. Collaborating with the protection and conservation of the natural resources by cooperating with communities in which the company has a direct influence, as well as in areas visited by Costa Rica 4U.
4. To make known to suppliers, wholesalers and other companies with which Costa Rica 4U has business relationship, the social responsibility policy that the company has adopted among its main objectives, to contribute with the strengthening of norms and values in those areas of influence.
5. To respect the cultural and ethnic diversity of people who visit our country, and to inform them on laws and norms that govern the Costa Rican legislation in social and environmental matters.
6. The Costa Rican idiosyncrasy is essential in our social projection towards visitors; its objective is to be the glue that holds together those policies that seek to promote sustainable tourism as the way to guarantee the preservation of the natural resources and the development of the tourism in parallel form.
7. To support protection and conservation of natural resources initiatives, in the national parks and reserves visited by the company and clients. This support positively influences the access of future generations to those resources and also will have a positive effect in the human development index of our country.
8. In those regions visited by the company promote participation of local communities in the planning and management of natural, cultural, patrimonial and human resources, in order to make profitable to them the incorporation of sustainable tourism into their economic activities, generating employment and promoting local development.
9. Complying with all established parameters of sustainability and to reach the objective of improving the quality of life of the communities involved, of all collaborators of the company and the environment in general.
It's easy to let your guard down when you travel. After all, you're more relaxed and there are so many new sights to focus on; however it is always advisable to use the same common sense traveling abroad that you would at home.
PAY ATTENTION TO PERSONAL SAFETY
Avoid secluded places and not walk alone after dark.
Keep all your goods in sight and reach. If you use public transportation, always keep an eye on them.
If you are lost and in need of checking your map, look for a public and safe place to do it.
Carry in your pockets only enough cash for a day, and only one credit card.
Do not flash large amounts of money when paying a bill.
Do not leave money and other valuables in your hotel room while you are out. Use the hotel safe.
When doing bank transactions, you must present your original passport. Use only banks or authorized agencies for exchanging your money.
Use automatic teller machines located in public and well illuminated places. Be careful of any offer of help of strangers when using the machines; withdraw the cash and count it before going outside.
DON'T PACK VALUABLES AND MEDICATIONS IN BAGGAGE YOU PLAN TO CHECK
Your bags will pass through a lot of unsupervised hands on its cross-country flight, so keep your jewelry, money and travellers checks close at hand in a carry-on bag. And there's always the chance that your baggage may not keep up with you, so pack medications and prescriptions in your carry on bags.
WATCH YOUR BAGS!
Half of the bags stolen are those left unattended.
Inside and outside the airport, and anywhere on the road, never leave your bags unattended for a second.
RESET YOUR THINKING WHEN IT COMES TO TRAFFIC SAFETY
The rules of the road may not be the same as they are at home. In some countries, people drive on the opposite side of the road and you'll need to be aware of this before you cross the street - look in the opposite direction from the one you're used to. Pedestrians don't always have the right of way overseas, either. Be sure there are no cars coming when you step into the street.
PREFER TO DRINK BOTTLED WATER AND DO NOT BUY FOOD FROM STREET VENDORS
It's easier to get sick when you're in a new place because your body hasn't had a chance to adjust to the food, water, and air in a new environment. Traveling can bring you in contact with things that your body isn't used to.
YOUR PASSPORT IS VERY IMPORTANT: TAKE GOOD CARE OF IT!
Always carry a copy of your passport and keep the original in the safety deposit box of your hotel, along with your money, jewelry and other valuable objects.
BE CAREFUL WHEN YOU DRIVE
Wear seat belts.
As much as possible, avoid driving at night.
Don't leave valuables in the car.
If you must carry things with you, keep them out of sight in the trunk.
Don't park you car on the street overnight.
Never pick up hitchhikers.
Before you leave your hotel, ask which way to turn when you walk out the door, and which direction to avoid.
While driving or parking your car, lock the doors and keep the windows closed. Do not leave your personal belongings inside the vehicle.
ONLY TAKE TAXIS CLEARLY IDENTIFIED WITH OFFICIAL MARKINGS
When using taxi services, verify that they comply with legal established requirements, such as the yellow triangles printed on the doors and a meter. Always ask the staff at your hotel to call a taxi from a reliable company.
In case of emergencies dial 911
For more information you may contact us at:
CRT - Sustainable Tourism Department
Phone. (506) 2-508-5000 – Fax. (506) 2-508-5134