Veragua Rainforest honored with Certificate for Sustainable Tourism
In ecotourism pioneer Costa Rica, being eco-friendly is extremely important. Eco-friendly travel and green tourism continue to be the fastest growing sectors worldwide in the tourism industry.
Nearly two decades ago, in 1999, the Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT) founded the Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST) program to regulate Costa Rican tourism businesses that are truly sustainable and eco-friendly. Their goal was to differentiate the real ecotourism businesses from those that are “greenwashed” – eco-friendly in advertising only.
There’s definitely no greenwashing at nature and adventure park Veragua Rainforest Eco-Adventure in Costa Rica’s Caribbean mountains. The ecotourism company always strives for the best in sustainability, and last month was awarded its first Certificate for Sustainable Tourism from the ICT.
The CST process is intense, rigorous and very detailed. The United Nations World Tourism Organization uses Costa Rica’s CST program as the model for sustainable tourism practices in Latin America. Tourism companies are graded on specific sustainability criteria such as proper waste management, environmental protection, use of resources, respect for local cultures and support of local communities. The CST ratings range from one to five “Leaves”, using the symbol of a green tree for its scale.
Veragua Rainforest Eco-Adventure, just beginning its CST process, is at the One Leaf level. The ecotourism company will now work on improvements to raise its status, said Erick Quiros, in charge of CST process at Veragua. Companies in the CST program are reviewed every two years.
For instance, since their CST review, Veragua Rainforest Eco-Adventure installed a new solar energy power system and is now operating almost solely using clean energy. This is no small feat given the nature park’s location in the Costa Rica Caribbean mountains, many kilometers from the nearest public utility electrical poles or a main road.
“The CST program fits right in with the triple-bottom-line philosophy of people, planet and profit we’ve had at Veragua since inception. We have cared for our finances, our environment, and our neighbors, but getting CST certified allows us to really show it to the world,” said Veragua owner Marti Jimenez. “We are very proud since we worked on this for many months completely with only our staff, rather than the usual practice of hiring a consultant who guides you through it. We went through the learning curve ourselves. Going through this process gives all of our employees a sense of teamwork and belonging in a sustainable project,” Jimenez added.
Veragua Rainforest Eco-Adventure nature and adventure park and scientific research facility is located an hour from the Port of Limon on a private rainforest reserve, bordering the La Amistad International Park. Veragua offers half-day and full-day cruise ship shore excursions and regular tours Tuesday to Sunday.
Article by Shannon Farley