sustainable tourism

How Costa Rica is Leading the Way Towards Sustainable Tourism

Costa Rica is a gorgeous country in Central America. With lush jungles and pristine beaches, the country boasts a multitude of sights to see. With the breathtaking landscape and the friendly locale, Costa Rica is a great spot to consider for your next vacation. There are so many things to do and see when traveling to Costa Rica that it can be hard to do everything in one trip. Because of the abundance of sights to see and activities to do, Costa Rica has become a popular tourist destination. As the number of visitors traveling to Costa Rica grows, their practices have changed. Costa Ricans have adapted their sustainability practices to now include tourism. And now Costa Rica is leading the way in sustainable tourism and acting as an example for other countries.

Efforts to Counteract Waste Produced by Tourism

In 2018, in an effort to counteract the additional waste that tourists produce, Costa Rica committed to completely ban single-use plastics by 2021. The ban will include plastic cutlery, bags, straws, cups, and bottles. While the three-year goal may seem steep, Costa Rica is well on its way to fulfilling the commitment on time. This shouldn’t come as a surprise consider Costa Rica is known for fulfilling environmental promises. Over the last 30 years, the country has completely reversed its deforestation. In fact, they have doubled their forest cover from 26% to 52% of the country. Seeing that Costa Rica has been committed to reversing environmental damage since the late ‘80s shows that they are not playing around when it comes to sustainability.

The commitment to banning single-use plastics by 2021 stretches further than simply helping the environment. Despite Costa Rica’s efforts toward sustainability, the country still improperly disposes of 800 tons of solid waste daily. This improperly disposed of trash often ends up on beaches, shorelines, and in landscapes across the country. The discarded trash does not do anything positive for tourism. Because the country cannot afford the environmental loss or loss in tourism, their efforts to clean up their waste disposal methods are twice as important to the country’s future.

Investing in Renewable Energy

Outside of waste disposal and plastic bans, Costa Rica is also investing time and money into renewable energy. In fact, they are one of the most advanced countries in the world when it comes to using renewable energy. Costa Rica announced in 2007 that it had set a national goal to become the second carbon-neutral country in the world after Bhutan. To be considered carbon neutral, Costa Rica must balance all carbon emissions with removal efforts. They will be carbon-neutral when the country produces zero carbon dioxide emissions. And they are well on their way to doing that. In January of 2017, ten years after announcing the national goal, Costa Rica’s entire population of 4.9 million people ran on power generated by renewable energy for 75 consecutive days and nights.

As a carbon-neutral country, Costa Rica would be able to take in as much tourism traffic as possible and not negatively impact the environment at all. As the country continues to work on making infrastructure and transportation more environmentally friendly and sustainable, it appears they have tourism in mind.

Costa Rica’s efforts towards sustainable tourism should be a model for other countries, both big and small, to follow. Redirecting a large number of their national funds towards sustainable efforts has helped catapult them to one of the leading countries in the world in regards to sustainability. By incorporating sustainability into every aspect of the country’s makeup — from tourism to what is available or unavailable to citizens — Costa Rica has made sustainability one of its main pillars. So far that pillar is supporting the country quite soundly.