What Does Sustainable Tourism in Costa Rica Mean to Us?
Sustainable tourism implies making a positive impact on the environment, society, and economy of the place we are visiting. At the very least, it means doing everything we can to avoid making a negative impact on destinations.
For Camino Travel, that means conserving and preserving ecological and cultural integrity, promoting social and economic equity, understanding cultural differences, promoting community involvement, and placing greater emphasis on education. We believe that anything that isn’t sustainable will eventually disappear. That is why we actively take actions against practices that aren’t sustainable in our own operations, as well as the operations of our partners and providers.
Sustainable Practices in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is famous for prioritizing sustainability. By 2050, Costa Rica has pledged to be 100% carbon neutral. In fact, in 2018, Costa Rica achieved international renown for its carbon-neutral electricity. 98% of its electricity in 2018 came from renewable sources, such as hydropower, geothermal power, wind power, and solar power.
Additionally, over 25% of Costa Rica’s forests are protected, between national parks, biological reserves, and wildlife refuges. Together, this system of protected land creates natural corridors that allow wildlife to thrive and migrate freely. Costa Rica also has the second largest marine protected area in the Eastern Tropical Pacific, after the area around the Galapagos Islands. 3,722 m2 (9,640 km2) of ocean is protected around Cocos Island, protecting, among other species, the migratory paths of tuna, dolphins, and hammer sharks.
In line with Costa Rica’s sustainability and conservation priorities, sport hunting has been banned in the country since 2012. The country continually seeks to expand and improve these environment-friendly practices.
What Does Camino Travel Do to Promote Sustainable Tourism in Costa Rica?
- We have an aggressive recycling and resource minimization program
- We routinely educate our employees, partners, and providers on sustainable practices.
- We make sure to only assemble small groups for tours in protected areas.
- We have a reforestation program.
- We have an active environmental committee.
- We constantly inspect our providers on their sustainable practices, ensuring compliance.
- We prioritize working with small, local businesses, especially within the communities where we operate.
Camino Travel also assures passengers that the hotels, tour providers, and transportation we use and offer are also committed to sustainable tourism practices.
Some of the characteristics we look for in our providers are:
- CST recognition by the Costa Rican Tourism Institute
- Actively recycling, energy use, and resource minimization processes and procedures
- Respectful of local culture
- Low impact activities and practices
- Social responsibility programs
- Compliance with Costa Rican laws and regulations
- Compliance with insurance policies
Certification for Sustainable Tourism for Tour Operators (CST-TO)
Camino Travel proudly has four CST-TO leaves (out of five) by the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT).
This certification distinguishes companies according to the degree to which they comply with a sustainable model of natural, cultural, and social resource management.
When you see that a company has the CST, you can expect the following:
- They avoid damaging the natural environment.
- They work to prevent natural environment risks.
- They reduce, reuse, and recycle.
- They are committed to using natural and biodegradable products.
- They have programs to save electricity and water.
- They encourage people to protect the natural and cultural wealth of the country.
- They comply with the law and regulations regarding the environment, wildlife, archeological heritage, and social security.
- They prioritize providing employment opportunities to the community where they operate.
- They promote and value the national traditions and customs.
- They have established programs to evaluate their services and improve their quality.
- They educate their employees on the benefits of good practices, not only with activities related to the company, but in their everyday lives.
Camino Travel Is Also Dedicated to Fight Against Child Exploitation in Tourism
Camino Travel has signed the Code of Conduct against Child Sexual Exploitation in Tourism promoted by the World Tourism Organization in conjunction with local child protection organizations.
The aim of the Code is to create commitment in the tourism industry to fight against child sexual exploitation in tourism. We do this by raising awareness of the problem and assuming an active role in the battle against this kind of tourism.
We inform all clients and service providers that sexual harassment, child prostitution, and the use of illegal substances are actions penalized by law.
Camino Travel Constantly Seeks Ways to Exercise Our Social Responsibility
Our CSR department is a holistic part of the organization that is focused on giving back to the community, based on the knowledge that our actions have inevitable consequences that we cannot control.
Especially in tourism, the impact is extensive in the communities of our country. Social responsibility isn’t just about limiting negative repercussions, but actively making a positive difference.
Additionally, whether it is the community or the natural environment, we see it as crucial to support everything that makes our tourism industry possible.
Social responsibility is about being sustainable, not just environmentally, but economically, socially, culturally, etc. It is about educating people, within our own organization as well as on the outside, from providers, to tourists, to local communities.
Some of the things Camino Travel does to give back to the community:
- We financially support amazing local causes, such as local orphanages and the elderly living in Costa Rica’s blue zone.
- We encourage donations from our tourists and groups for these great causes, among others.
- In addition to internal CSR activities, we encourage our client companies to support local causes as well.