Ecotourism is top of the list as to why millions of travelers from around the world come to Costa Rica’s tropical paradise each year to see its wondrous landscapes and exuberant biodiversity. Tourism is the number one industry in the country, and with good reason. Though a tiny Central American nation, Costa Rica is a “wonderland” of volcanoes, beaches, rainforest jungles, picturesque rivers and lakes, and rolling savannas.
Luckily, Costa Rica’s international reputation as “one of the most biologically diverse countries” has not only spurred ecotourism, but also has motivated the country’s government, local communities and private sectors to expand and better control the country’s protected areas, where logging, poaching and some agricultural activities were wreaking havoc on the environment.
Ecotourism has become one of the fastest-growing sectors of the tourism industry, growing annually by 10–15% worldwide. Generally, ecotourism involves travel to destinations where flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions, and it aims to foster a greater appreciation of our natural habitats. An integral part of ecotourism is the promotion of recycling, energy efficiency, water conservation, and creation of economic opportunities for local communities.
At Pranamar Oceanfront Villas & Yoga Retreat, on Costa Rica’s stunning Santa Teresa Beach on the Nicoya Peninsula, sustainable tourism is a way of life. From the very beginning of creating Pranamar, owners Susan Money and Greg Mullins have been committed to “creating a special place that focuses on community, consciousness and honoring nature’s gifts.” They believe it is “important to consider the imprint we leave and the effects we have on our environment and planet.”
The luxury hotel uses a completely independent Pranamar’s lush gardens irrigated with treated waste watert septic system that recycles treated water into the irrigation of its gardens. All waste water passes through a three-tank aerobic system using natural bacteria to clean the water, and then enters a drip irrigation system in the gardens which maximizes water usage. The local municipality is showing off Pranamar’s unique water system as an example for other tourism businesses and private property owners to implement.
On a greater scale, Pranamar staff work with the community on monthly beach clean-ups. Along with other hotels and businesses in the area, the beach communities of Santa Teresa, Mal Pais, Carmen and Hermosa all obtained for 2012 the highly-desired ecological Blue Flag award, which ensures the quality and sanitation of the water, beach clean-up projects, community informational signs, and environmental education.
By Shannon Farley from Enchanting Costa Rica