Costa Rica Eco Tourism vs. Poverty

Costa Rica eco tourism has gained an unchallenged reputation of being at the forefront of global ecotourism, a movement recognizing the effects that tourism has on the ecological, social, cultural and religious traditions of a country. The ecotourism doctrine reminds us that we are visitors, and to listen first and not brag about our wealth and the quality of life in our home country, to set examples of polite behavior and clean up after ourselves, to graciously accept what is given to us, to realize that the bargain souvenir we are buying for pennies is the result of long hours of work, and even to ask first before taking photos. Mostly ecotourism asks us to understand and empathize with those around us and serving us, and be international ambassadors of good will. But unlike the party animal tourists that go to Miami or Cancun, Costa Rica travel and tourism tends to attract those with a higher level of education and sophistication and these words of advice are often preached to the converted.

Overpopulation is the planet’s greatest threat. All environmental problems are accelerated as population increases and more resources are consumed. It is difficult for tourists to follow the ecotourism doctrine within the confines of San Jose. Tightening security, not the environment, takes the priority. Visitors will easily come across congested traffic, overused land and water resources, irregular zoning regulations, and the poverty in the shanty barrios around San Jose. As such, concepts of Costa Rican ecotourism are difficult to apply. At our San Jose, Costa Rican hotel, making guests aware of ecotourism in Costa Rica is almost limited to a printed handout and individual wall plaques in each room with a list of suggestions. As one moves into the countryside, advice on eco tourism within Costa Rica becomes more germane.

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