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HOME - Tour, Vacation & Hotel Guide to Costa Rica - Maps, Rental Cars, Accommodations It's not easy Being Green

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Small is beautiful !!

Earth has its boundaries but human stupidity is limitless. ~ Gustave Flaubert, French novelist, 1821-1880

Unfortunately, the designation “eco-tourism” is much like the nomenclature “organic” – it means different things to different people. Everyone at least agrees on the objective: a “win-win” situation for the environment, the tourist, the travel industry and the local people. But whether it actually achieves its promise is another issue.

For an insightful and in-depth look at the problems and solutions of green tourism, read Ecotourism and Sustainable Development, by Martha Honey, published by Island Press.

Various environmental organizations have similar definitions, but it is generally agreed that true eco-tourism projects should meet these seven criteria:

1. Covers tourism only to natural areas
2. Minimizes ecological impact
3. Builds environmental awareness
4. Provides direct financial benefits for conservation
5. Provides financial benefits and empowerment for local communities
6. Respects local culture
7. Supports human rights

When traveling, it is very easy to slip into enjoying “eco-tourism lite,” a phrase coined by Ms Honey. In this mindset, we whiz through the forest canopy on high wires, neither appreciating the forest nor edifying ourselves – but having tons of fun.

On a higher scale, hotel chains and tourism operations can claim they are green and benefit the environment because they use recycled toilet paper or biodegradable soap. That is not wrong in itself – every little bit helps – but it is not a particularly big part of the solution and shouldn’t be advertised as such. The “lite” experience tends to enjoy nature without being overly concerned about its preservation. So remember, if you are concerned, when accommodations are chosen, small is beautiful.


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