Costa Rica

Sustainable Travel in Costa Rica

Costa Rica has long been recognized for its pristine nature. Almost a quarter of the country is under protection in national parks and other protected areas, the largest percentage of protected areas in the world. Despite its relatively compact size, Costa Rica contains five percent of the world's biodiversity, which is spread across cloud rainforests, white, beige and black sand beaches, majestic volcanoes and a plethora of waterfalls. A pioneer in ecotourism, Costa Rica was the only country to meet all five United Nations Development Program criteria established to measure environmental sustainability. The country was ranked 42nd in the world, and third in the Americas in the 2016 Environmental Performance Index. Costa Rica officially plans to become a carbon-neutral country by 2021. By 2016, 98.1% of its electricity was generated from green sources. This peaceful country has no army, and it enjoys one of the highest literacy rates in the world. Travelers choose from a wide variety of active adventures that include mountain biking, rafting, horseback riding, hiking, bird watching, world-class sports fishing, ziplining canopy tours and rappelling in waterfalls. Costa Rica is just the place to scale an active volcano, reenergize with a luxurious spa treatment or encounter the indigenous cultures such as the Maleku people of the northern region.

What are they doing right?

World renowned as an ecotourism destination, Costa Rica’s Certificate for Sustainable Tourism, which recognizes tourism companies with up to five levels of excellence, is embarking on an update to reflect advancements in sustainable tourism best practices, CST 2.0. The Costa Rican government has also committed itself to becoming the first carbon-neutral country by its 200th birthday in 2021, with a focus on the use of renewable energy resources, and a “C-Neutral” label awarded to those tourism companies that mitigate all their carbon emissions.

The Finch Ranking

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The country has achieved international recognition as an innovative leader in sustainable tourism, the government is actively engaged in implementing or has already implemented a national sustainable tourism development plan, multi-stakeholders are engaged in ongoing dialogue for taking best practices to a higher level. Progress towards sustainability goals are evaluated, measured and monitored for improvement and ongoing success.

Ecotourism took root early in Costa Rica, and continues to be taken seriously by many innovative Costa Rican companies who are eager to protect their country as a global travel destination that protects nature and sustains the well-being of local people. The country has made it a goal to be carbon neutral by 2021. With its abundant forests along volcanic slopes filled with birds and other wildlife, its coastlines that play host to one of the largest sea turtle nesting migrations, and its cultural traditions that stretch back to early Mesoamerican history, Costa Rica has committed itself to protecting its heritage for the future. Learn more about the values.

Why the Finch Ranking?