|"21st century tourism must be sustainable or it will no longer survive"|
The concept of sustainability
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)
Sustainability, as a model of development, seeks to meet the current demands of society without compromising the rights of future generations to meet theirs. That is to say, the development of the country cannot be based on the unbalanced exploitation of resources (natural, cultural, social, etc.) to meet the demands of society (food, housing, health, employment) because these are the only resources we have, and that future generations have, to meet our and their own needs.
Certification for Sustainable Tourism
The CST's fundamental purpose is to make sustainability a practical and necessary reality within the context of the country's competitiveness in tourism, while looking to improve the way that natural and social resources are used, encourage the active participation of local communities and provide a new source of competitiveness within the business sector.
What is 100% responsible tourism?
CST promotes efforts that benefit us and support the country..
SUSTAINABILITY PROGRAMS DEPARTMENT
"21st century tourism must be sustainable or it will no longer survive"
Unlike the tourism industry of our competitors, the CST represents a new form of competitiveness which encourages a tourism product that is sustainable, thereby opening new possibilities in the industry and international marketing.
In addition to marketing support from the Costa Rica Tourism Institute, the CST certified business can use the label as a key sales point in their promotions. Besides making operations more efficient under this system, it also encourages the conservation and efficient handling of resources. This has a positive impact, not only on the quality of the product, but also on cost-benefit ratios.
What benefits will the CST certified business see?
The CST certified business will benefit from the marketing strategies put forward by the Costa Rica Tourism Institute because the CST label is linked to its campaign in the country.
CST certified businesses will enjoy complete or partial exemption from registration fees to international fairs.
The CST label can be used in its marketing promotions to identify them as sustainable, adding a new element in promoting its product.
The CST certified business will be listed on the web site www.turismo-sostenible.co.cr, available in Spanish, English, and French.
Such businesses will see improvements in the efficiency of their operations when they implement these recommended practices. For example, using technologies to conserve energy will improve the product in terms of sustainability, as well as significantly reduce billing for such services.
"21st century tourism must be sustainable or it will no longer survive"
CST protects against the inconsistent practices of some companies that operate as "green washers" (businesses that abuse the concept of "eco" or "sustainability") by providing valuable information about businesses that truly make efforts to offer a sustainable tourist product and those that don't.
This strengthens the image of the country as an authentic environmental destination, considerably raising the competitiveness of the national tourist product.
Each time you see the CST label on an establishment or tour operator agency, you will know:
A business will see improved efficiency within its operations when it promotes efficient handling of its resources, such as water, energy, as well as supplies that are used. A business can see significant savings, a reduction in sources of pollution (which can create extra costs), and waste reduction, by establishing a purchasing policy that defines the size of packages as well as the materials used in them.
The reduction in some of these costs can improve a business's competitiveness, as well as the consistency of the product offered, which will lead to improved customer satisfaction.
Implementing a policy that reduces costs, within this framework, will encourage a business's suppliers and partners to actively participate in the process, by having to generate favorable results to make operations in their area efficient. Depending on the contribution that each individual makes, savings and sound practices can spread beyond the individual realm and lead to a chain reaction.
“The experience of 'transforming' the Parque del Lago Hotel into a sustainable business was incredible. All initial expectations of the program were exceeded, both at an administrative as well as an operational level…the best of all was that CST has served, not only to improve our hotel operational practices, but also, at the same time, as a tool to encourage our partners and maintain a high standard of education and modernization."
Mrs. Andrea Bonilla, Parque del Lago Hotel.
Every time you see the CST label on a lodging establishment or a tour operator agency, you know that:
“CST promotes actions that benefit us and support the country.”
Certification For Sustainable Tourism
The development of sustainable tourism involves the balanced interaction between the appropriate use of our natural resources and culture, the improvement of the quality of life within our local communities, and the economic success of our industry, which leads to overall national development. All this is possible in Costa Rica, thanks to the CERTIFICATION FOR SUSTAINABLE TOURISM (CST).
The CST label was developed by the Costa Rica Tourism Institute with the goal of making the idea of sustainable tourism a reality, and the only way to complete in this century. History has taught us that a quality tourist destination is created, not only by improving the most visible factors of the industry, such as hotels, gastronomy, and marketing, but also by improving the security, attractions, environment, local communities, and training, among others. A strong infrastructure leads to healthy tourism and balance in the economy, society, and environment, thereby opening new possibilities to gain a competitive edge in attracting the most important player: the tourist.
What Does The CST Do?
It is a program that categorizes and certifies tourism businesses, with the goal of demonstrating sustainability within their operations. In order to achieve this, the following fundamental factors are evaluated:
- Physical and biological relationship:
The CST evaluates the interaction between the business and the surrounding natural environment, and seeks to implement sustainable policies and programs, like the protection of the environment, among others.
- Internal processes and practices of lodging establishments:
Aspects are evaluated related to the business's internal processes and systems with respect to waste management and technologies used to conserve electric energy and water.
- Management services-Tour operator agencies:
This involves the process by which, the business takes into consideration all internal and external elements of the tourist product in accordance with market tendencies and particular aspects of the country and communities where the operations are set up.
- The client:
Efforts that management takes to encourage the client to participate in the implementation of the business's sustainability policies are evaluated.
- Socio-economic realm:
Identification and interaction of the business with developing communities are evaluated, by looking at, for example, the degree to which tourism establishments respond to growth and development in the region, by generating employment and results that positively benefit the collective whole.
CST regulations evaluate businesses within a structured system on a scale of 1 to 5. The process of integration and sustainability that businesses face at each level leads to a model company in terms of sustainability.
CST: A vaild and credible label
The National Accreditation Commission of the CST, composed of the academic sector, private business, the public sector, and two international organizations, is responsible for granting CST distinction and making sure that certified businesses that advertise the label comply with the established guidelines. This way, tourists as well as those agents working with CST-certified businesses, can be certain that such businesses adhere to managerial ideals of social, corporate, and most importantly, sustainable responsibility.
The National Accreditation Commission is comprised of the Costa Rica Tourism Institute, the Ministry of the Environment and Energy, the National Institute of Biodiversity, the University of Costa Rica, the Central American Institute of Business Administration, the National Tourism Chamber, the Earth Council and the International Union for Conservation of Nature .
CST has been acknowledged by the World Tourism Organization as "one of the programs that is rethinking how tourism is done." (2000)
In the Panama Town Plan (Plan Puebla Panamá) 2000, CST was considered an effective measure for going beyond the environmental protection certification or ecological tourism.
“CST Tourism: 100% responsible now, and in the future.”
"We are convinced that this entire initiative, far from fearing competition, unites and strengthens any efforts, specifically when talking about efforts to streamline the tourism product under sound standards, by which we must define sustainability. This effort enriches Costa Rica because each day we are, and will be, more and more certain in defining ourselves as a sustainable tourist destination".
Ana Báez, Representative for Tour Operator Agencies.
"… It gives us great pleasure having reached another "green leaf" LEVEL 2, which rewards our continuous efforts for carrying out the directives and recommendations that have been made to us in the past, in order to be more socially and ecologically friendly with that which faces us as a tourism business…"
Rolando Soto J., Hotel Casa Camarona Legal Representative.
“Sustainable Tourism is not only a response to a demand, but also an imperative condition to successfully compete now and in the future.”