A green seal for tourism-related companies is being developed through the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT), in cooperation with other government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and international entities. Although several private rating systems have attempted to evaluate hotels and lodges in the past, this is the first large- scale le government effort. While the program has been designed for all tourism related companies, the first stage encompasses only lodges and hotels. Participation in the program is entirely voluntary to businesses and is offered at no cost other than providing necessary information. At this writing the ratings have not been completed; they should be by your arrival. For a list of certified businesses, contact ICT: e-mail info@ tourism-costarica.com, Web site www.tourism- costarica.com.
The Sustainable Tourism Certification Program encompasses proper stewardship of natural and cultural resources, improvement in quality of life of local communities, and economic success that can contribute to national development. Businesses are rated on a scale of' 1 to 5, with 5 considered outstanding in terms Of Sustainability.
The following are some of the aspects considered: degree of harmony with the physical Setting (including flow it affects the local environment), policies regarding consumption of water and electricity, disposal of wastes, use of biodegradable products, relationship between hotel guests and staff, and social integration in the host community --benefits the community receives, contribution to local infrastructure, promotion of local culture (via information to guests and social contact), and safety.
Since studies indicate that the majority of tourists to Costa Rica are environmentally concerned, ICT believes the rating system will influence travelers' choices about where to stay. Tourism operators will respond by upgrading their operations to climb the green ladder.
We encourage travelers to support those businesses that participate in this program. By mentioning the importance you place on the green seal in choosing where to spend your time and money, you help determine the success of this countrywide initiative toward responsible tourism.
In conjunction with other government entities, ICT also administers a Blue
Flag (Bandera Azul) program for beaches, taking into account factors such as
water quality (both ocean and drinking water), public bathrooms, and amount
of trash on the beach. Heavily visited beaches are checked monthly, others
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