Fresh Tourism Initiatives in Costa Rica Presented at Expotur 2008

EXPOTUR 2008, Costa Rica Travel Mart and Central America’s prominent travel trade show, closed on a positive note in the Hotel Ramada Plaza Herradura in San José with the participation of hundreds of national and international buyers and sellers, and media underscoring the position of Costa Rica as one of the most visited destinations in the region.

The tradeshow, which has been held annually for 24 years, showcased 400 service providers this year, and welcome international buyers from Argentina, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Germany, Ecuador, Israel, Mexico, Switzerland, and the Unites States.

Minister of Tourism, Carlos Ricardo Benavides said that Costa Rica’s revenues from international tourism reached US$1.9 billion and the number of foreign tourists in Costa Rica reached almost 2 million tourists for 2008.

As part of the country’s sustainable tourism strategy, the Costa Rica Tourist Board (ICT) and the Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST) program unified efforts in setting up an outstanding informational booth for Costa Rican tourism companies and international visitors. CST staff educated companies in how to fulfill certification parameters.

The CST program, created in 1999 by the ICT, was designed to differentiate tourism sector businesses based on the degree to which they comply with a sustainable model of natural, cultural and social resource management. Companies that seek to obtain this quality seal on sustainable tourism must be evaluated on their employment of local people, respect for local culture, contribution to the economic and social well-being of the community, and preservation of natural resources. The CST program has become one of the most widely respected sustainable certificate programs and it has been has been adopted by the United Nations and the World Tourism Organization as a model, and many countries around the world are employing similar standards.

“Sustainable development is a main objective in our tourism industry. This is the only approach to maintain a healthy growth of the industry, secure a fair distribution of wealth, improve the quality of life of our citizens and protect the natural beauty that we have for the present and future generations” Benavides commented. “This challenge requires the intensive work and commitment of the private sector, as well as the involvement of the communities,” he added.

This year, EXPOTUR featured an innovative and significant exhibition called “Expo-Verde” or “Expo-Green.” Launched by the Costa Rica Tourist Board (ICT), the Costa Rican Association of Professionals in Tourism (ACOPROT), Rainforest Alliance, and sponsored by the private tourism industry, Expo-Verde’s mission is to gather environmental organizations that provide eco-friendly products to the industry. More than 27 sellers presented their products that ranged from sustainable eco-lodges to organic and biodegradable products.
Among some of the major announcements during EXPOTUR 2008 was the construction of the first large convention center in the Central Valley. The project will be located near Costa Rica’s main international airport Juan Santamaría in Alajuela. The grounds will be comprised of over 56,800 acres and will include fair and exposition grounds, a large convention center, several offices, and two hotels.

Veragua Rainforest Research & Adventure Park was also unveiled during EXPOTUR. The park is located in Las Brisas de Veragua in the province of Limón and it will open its doors to the public this coming summer 2008. The park includes an open-air tram ride through the rainforest canopy, a waterfall, trails through the rainforest, live butterfly exhibit, a live reptile exhibit, live day-time frogs exhibit, the largest nocturnal indoor frog garden in the world, and an actual state-of-the-art scientific research station.

About Costa Rica
Costa Rica is located in Central America, nestled between Nicaragua and Panama, and bordered on the east by the Caribbean Sea and the west by the Pacific Ocean. This small country represents only 0,01 % of the planet’s surface and it shelters almost 4% of the existing world’s biodiversity. It has given priority to the conservation of its natural resources, protecting 25% of the national territory in National Parks or other natural areas.

The country offers world-class eco-tourism and adventure travel. The options are unlimited for any discriminating traveler: horseback riding on a secluded beach; hiking through the lush whispering greenery of a rainforest; having an exhilarating experience on a white-water rafting trip, observing the tropical forests from a canopy tour; surfing the blue waves of either coast; experiencing a quite, close encounter with different species of birds and wildlife; and enjoying the diverse culture and hospitality of the Ticos.

About the Costa Rica Tourist Board
The Costa Rica Tourist Board, created in 1955, is an autonomous institution of the State, responsible for regulating the tourism activity in Costa Rica and promoting Costa Rica’s tourism attractions and destinations both at a national and international level. The Costa Rica Tourist Board creates tourism norms, regulations, incentives and grants the tourist declaratory for Costa Rica’s hotels, travel agencies, rental cars and other tourism organization and service provider.

For general travel or tourism information about Costa Rica, contact the Costa Rica Tourist Board directly at 1-866-267-8274 or visit their website.
For press inquiries, please contact 1-888-600-6806

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