You may not know this, but Camino Travel passengers have a solid way to experience a positively sustainable vacation thanks to the Costa Rican Tourism Board’s (ICT) certification of sustainable tourism, or CST and our continous eforts for the five leaves.
Maybe you read it, maybe you didn’t, for us, knowing that we finally got the five leaves was amazing. An achievement acquired by the efforts of each of the people who work in Camino and that, today, the World Tourism Day, we finally have in our hands. Resting on a little table, telling us all that it is possible. Whispering that if, all of us, human being do our little task in the square foot we live in… It is possible to save the planet!
OK, that’s great! You may be telling us… but “What are the CST five leaves?”
The five leaves are the highest certification level Costa Rican Tourism Board (Representing the Costa Rica government) gives to a company for their work in sustainability, it is a certification, but also considered an honor and a profound responsibility to the planet and sustainable travel.
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Now… What is sustainable travel?:
“The development of sustainable tourism must be seen as the balanced interaction between the use of our natural and cultural resources, the improvement of the quality of life among the local communities, and the economic success of the industry, which also contributes to national development. Sustainable tourism is not only a response to demand, but also an imperative condition to successfully compete now and in the future. (Definition of Sustainable Tourism, CST, 1997)”
Meaning that we, as humans, have to create a balance of our needs and the conservation of the resources that provide for them.
Now… What is the Certification for Sustainable Tourism?
The CST is the way that we discover in Costa Rica, to make sustainability a practical and necessary reality in the travel industry and competitiveness.
Certification requires a severe process that can take businesses up to two years to establish the appropriate policies and practices, a real commitment with the cultural, social and natural resources. Consisting of five levels called leaves. The rating process involves continuous inspections and evaluations. And the higher the level, the harder it gets.
When you are traveling through Costa Rica, you will see in some hotels and tour operators a framed certificate with leaves, pretty much as you see the hotel’s stars’ ratings.
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What does that mean?
Depending on the number of leaves, know this: the more it means that the owner:
- It encourages you, as a traveler, to experience the country’s natural wealth and insists on its care and conservation.
- It limits the size of its tours and encourages its clients, wholesalers, and suppliers, the principles of sustainability.
- It offers its clients the opportunity to participate in conservation and communal development initiatives.
- It continually trains its staff in matters of quality and sustainable tourism.
- It complies with norms that the tourist establishment must uphold regarding the environment, wildlife, archaeological heritage, and social guarantees of the country.
- Take measures to avoid emissions, harmful products, and pollution.
- They have created a set of measures to reduce conservation and inherent risks.
- It handles its waste efficiently.
- It uses natural, biodegradable, and recyclable products.
- It has a water and electrical energy conservation program.
- It promotes the traditions and customs of the country, as well as typical food and national handicrafts.
What does the CST five leaves mean for Camino Travel
“For Camino Travel and our staff, it is a great honor, a major satisfaction to have the five leaves, especially in our 25th anniversary and looking at 2017 which will be the UN Year of Sustainable Travel”
says Georgina Salas, General Manager of Camino Travel.
“But this award goes beyond, as we realize the great responsibility in the creation of awareness in each person of our team and how it creates a domino effect that will probably never end, from us to our children and, from us to our visitors, their children, their friends, and so on. We do have to realize that the creation of this mouth to mouth powerful awareness means the safety and well-being of the future generations of humanity, and we all hope that it truly turns into a seed that will produce forests throughout Earth”
As for our customers, this certificate is a way for passengers interested in sustainable practices to use it by visiting communities, projects and interacting with the authentic Costa Ricans and our natural sustainable efforts.