The Third Virtual Congress on Latin American Tourism Industry and Destination Competitiveness, recently recognized Costa Rica with the “Tourism for All” award in the category “Innovation in Tourism and Hotels.”  The implementation of the Certification for Sustainable Tourism<> (CST) program created by the Costa Rica Tourist Board (ICT) was the main reason for such recognition.

Minister of Tourism, Carlos Ricardo Benavides said “This award represents an additional incentive to continue the efforts promoting the CST program and also to strengthen our sustainable tourism development policy.”

“We are pleased to be recognized as an innovative country in the regional tourism activity,” said Benavides.  “The CST is an exemplary program for companies to achieve market differentiation, success, and to contribute to development growth in a healthy manner; this recognition commits us to perform the job in the best possible way, he added.”

After a meticulous evaluation, the CST program was selected based on its vision and feasibility to promote sustainable tourism.  The recognition was given as an incentive to encourage sustainable tourism actions that would allow a growth in Costa Rica.  Plans also include replicating the program in every country in Latin America.

The conference’s main topic was “Hotel and Tourism Small Businesses: Present and Future.”  Other countries that participated were Argentina, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras Nicaragua, Panamá, Spain, United States, and Venezuela.

Costa Rica’s development model is enhanced with the implementation of the CST. The CST objective is to categorize and differentiate tourism companies according to their model of sustainability in the natural, cultural, and social resources areas.  Four basic areas are evaluated: biological and physical environment, service platform, customer service, and socioeconomic environment.

The CST program was created by the ICT in 1999 and it has been internationally recognized by the World Tourism Organization.  Presently 94 companies ranging from tour operators and hotels are certified in Costa Rica.