| Ifigenia Garita Canet
Es bióloga tropical de profesión y en la actualidad realiza una maestría en Manejo en Recursos Naturales con énfasis en Desarrollo Sostenible en la Universidad para la Paz. Tiene 15 años de vivir en nuestra comunidad, desde su llegada se ha dedicado a crear una organización no gubernamental llamada ASCONA. Hace cinco años empezó su propia empresa de turismo responsable, OSA WILD TRAVEL, la cual promueve el turismo local autentico costarricense. Para mas información comuníquese con Ifigenia al correo electronico firstname.lastname@example.org
On September 27th, I learned that there is a World Tourism Day and that, unfortunately, I missed it. Since then, I thought it would be a good chance to write a bit on what I believe tourism is about. As an experienced tourism tenderfoot from my 15 years of living on the Osa Peninsula, I have finally a concrete and beautiful concept of what we can all do with tourism in our community and country.
The celebrated World Tourism day fosters awareness among citizens everywhere on the importance of tourism to their social, cultural, economic and political development. It is the official day set aside in the United Nations calendar to celebrate tourism and to highlight its potential to contribute to the wellbeing of all humankind and address some of the challenges it is faced with today.
With more than 1.2 billion people travelling the world each year, tourism has become a powerful driver of the world’s economy, an avenue to prosperity, a means of integration for different people, and a transformative force to foment peace and improve the lives of millions. For full disclosure, I am a recent graduate from a United Nations university where peace is a central facet, so if my take sounds too political, I hope my audience will understand that my enthusiasm reflects the direction that my beliefs have taken during the last couple of years.
Costa Rica is a leading tourism destination recognized around the world for the diversity of its attractions and activities. Tourists visiting our country enjoy tourism richness that includes pristine coastal beaches and forests, unique wildlife, adventure in varied landscapes, the native diversity of eight indigenous tribes and cultures, plus special-interest activities like agro-tourism and rural tourism. As a country, Costa Rica is renowned for friendliness, hospitality and pura vida, two magical words that summarize everything about this country and who we are as a people.
In recent years, we have seen tremendous growth in community-based tourism. This style of tourism helps foreign tourists as well as Costa Rican nationals come to understand our country better, all while enjoying its natural beauty and diversity. While commendable and growing, one thing we still need to promote more is domestic tourism to promote ideals of integration, cohesion and patriotism among our nation’s citizens.
Our tourism sector needs to be at the forefront of promoting sustainable practices and inclusion of all Costa Ricans in tourism activities and business. Communities must also play their role to ensure that they support tourism while identifying and making possible opportunities for them to benefit from the sector. It is the resultant all-inclusiveness and equitability in the sharing of benefits that will ensure long-term sustainability of Costa Rica’s tourism.
On the recent World Tourism Day, which promoted universal accessibility for all, we can now proudly say that Costa Rica is eagerly working to provide equal access to some of our tourism destinations, including: Poás, Irazú, Santa Rosa, Carara, Manuel Antonio and Guayabo National Parks. Since 2002, SINAC and private enterprise have worked to provide protected wilderness areas with infrastructure, signage and educational facilities to help those tourists with physical or mental disabilities, as well as others who, due to their age or illness, are not as able to enjoy our parks as easily as others. We still need to do more to make these destinations more accessible to all, and we urge state agencies and government in providing transport and other public infrastructure that support tourism to ensure that our natural treasures can be rightly enjoyed by all.