Costa Rica - One of the most eco-friendly destinations in the world
Costa Rica has recently been named the world's greenest holiday destination by the World Travel Guide. Such an accolade is par for the course for the Central American country with its eco friendly initiatives often far more ambitious than those of other destinations including being the first country to ban hunting and its ambition to become carbon neutral by 2021.
Costa Rica is widely recognized as one of the first destinations in Central America, if not the world, to develop and commercialize its eco-tourism product.
Today ecotourism generates a substantial portion of Costa Rica's tourism revenue thanks to its 124 national parks, nature reserves and wildlife refuges which together account for a quarter of Costa Rica's land mass. In 2014 alone over 2.5 million travellers booked holidays in Costa Rica generating a remarkable $2.6 billion in revenue.
Key government initiatives have helped to place Costa Rica among the top eco-friendly destinations in the world. Most recently, Costa Rica ranked number one in the World Travel Guide's list of "The 20 greenest holiday destinations on Earth".
Helping Costa Rica to earn the top spot on the World Travel Guide's list was the state owned Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) recent announcement that it had produced 100 per cent of the nation's electricity with renewable sources for the first 75 days of 2015.
The announcement was a major milestone for Costa Rica as it works towards a goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2021. Other notable initiatives over the years include an official ban on shark finning and a unanimous vote to ban hunting in Costa Rica - making it the first country to pass such legislation.
Alonso Villalobos, a political scientist at the University of Costa Rica explained part of the reason than such environmental initiatives have succeeded in Costa Rica stating:
"Costa Ricans think of themselves as "people who are in very good relation with the environment" and in that way, we have made a lot of progress. We have a stronger environmental consciousness".
Part of what makes Costa Rica's story so captivating is the fact that in the years between 1950 and 1970, Costa Rica was one a much different path with excessive deforestation reducing forest coverage to only 30 per cent- this was the wake up call Costa Rica needed according to current Minister for Environment and Energy Edgar Gutierrez. The Central American nation has not looked back since then with the System of National Parks developed in 1974, he explained:
"The objective is to generate income from our biodiversity. Also a process of regulatory changes have been put in place to guarantee Costa Rica will continue in this way".
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