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How Five Leaves are changing Eco-Tourism Marketing in Costa Rica


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Costa Rica's Certificate for Sustainable Tourism (CST) and it's Five Leaf rating have become a model for making all of Tourism more "Green".

It has also become a important part of Costa Rica's Tourism Marketing Effort ("Costa Rica. No Artificial Ingredients").

This presentation explains how the CST Five Leaf System actually works.

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How Five Leaves are changing Eco-Tourism Marketing in Costa Rica

  1. 1. How Five Leaves are changing Tourism Marketing.Costa Rica's Certificate for<br />Sustainable Tourism (CST)<br />
  2. 2. Once upon a time, Costa Rica saved itself. By going green.<br />It sounds like a fairy tale.<br />A country that once was 2nd fastest in deforestation worldwide is now a world leader in ecotourism and rainforest protection.<br />According to the annual Environmental Performance Index prepared by Yale University that ranks 163 countries based on their policy concerning both environmental public health and ecosystem vitality, Costa Rica appeared in the third place.<br />A key element of this is Costa Ricas innovation: The certifcation in Sostainable Tourism. Also known as the Five Leaf Program.<br />
  3. 3. In 1996, Costa Rica invented<br />CertifiedSustainableTourism.<br />CST was the first program in the world that certified the environmental and socioeconomic sustainability of hotels.<br />The program is voluntary, and the certificate is free.<br />Today, more than 100 Costa Rican hotels have passed the CST. <br />For more and more hotels, the Green Leaves of the CST are becoming a vital part of their marketing strategy.<br />
  4. 4. The Vision: Sustainability in all kinds of tourism - from Eco to Luxury.<br />The CST Five Leaf program looks at the travel industry beyond traditional green tourism.<br />From bare-bones eco-lodge to luxurious golf resort: every hotel can apply the principles of caring for environment & community. <br />
  5. 5. You know what 5 Stars will give you. But what does it mean when your see Five Leaves?<br />We know that hotel stars tell us what kind of service and amenities we can expect from a rated hotel. In order to be a 3-star hotel, for example, you need to provide a hairdryer in the bathroom and a safe, among a myriad of other things.<br />But its just as important to understand what the star system is not rating: The experience! You might easily have a nicer experience at some 2-star pensions than at 4-star hotels. The star system is all about transparency of features, not about how it feels. <br />In the same way, the Five Leaves create transparency about the sustainability of a hotel’s operation.<br />
  6. 6. In a nutshell: The more efforts a hotel puts into sustainability, the more leaves it gets.<br />Costa Ricas CST awards between 1 or 5 leaves for how well hotels perform in these areas:<br />how well the hotel treats nature around the hotel<br />how the hotel impacts the local society<br />and how the hotel helps the local economy<br />
  7. 7. How does CST measure Environmental, Social and Economical impact.<br />A CST auditing team visits the hotel and asks 150+ yes/no questions, divided into 4 categories:<br />1. Physical biological environment.<br />2. Hotel facilities<br />3. Guest services<br />4. Socio-economic environment<br />A score is calculated for each of the 4 categories. The one with the lowest (!) score determines how many CST leaves are awarded.<br />This assures that no category can be ignored by management. <br />
  8. 8. Physical biological environment.<br /> E.g. protection of natural areas.<br />- What policies and programs are in place?<br /><ul><li> How are emissions and wastes treated?
  9. 9. Are gardens put to sustainable use?
  10. 10. Are natural areas protected?
  11. 11. Are native plants and animals protected?</li></li></ul><li>2. Hotel facilities.<br /> E.g. organic and local food supply.<br />- Is sustainability an official hotel policy?<br />- How much water is consumed? For what?<br />- Is energy consumption managed?<br />- Are general supplies (detergent) watched?<br />- Are employees being trained?<br />
  12. 12. 3. Guest services:<br /> E.g. involving guests in efforts.<br /><ul><li> Are guests offered involvement in sustainable activities?</li></ul>- How are guest groups managed?<br />- Is Customer feedback measured and used?<br />
  13. 13. 4. Socio-economic environment:<br /> E.g. employing local community members.<br />- What are the direct local economic benefits?<br /><ul><li> Are indirect local benefits for local communities created?</li></ul>- Is local cultural promoted?<br />- What’s the impact on the public health of the community?<br />- How are local infrastructure and security affected?<br />
  14. 14. How to find a hotel with<br />CST certification.<br />1. The Costa Rica ministry of Tourism offers an up-to-date list of all certified hotels at <br />2. Book through a travel agent that specializes in sustainable tourism.<br />3. If you want to book through a big travel site, simply check with the hotel management first. Hotels that passed the CST are usually good with feedback, because it is part of the certification.<br />
  15. 15. The Five Leafs have become a more visible part of tourism marketing because more and more people want to enjoy their vacation, knowing their visit and their money does have a positive impact on the communities they visit.<br />Choosing a CST certified hotel not only makes sure you reward those who try a little bit harder. The success also motivates other hotels in Costa Rica to join the program. And it it also supports the leading role that Costa Rica has in helping other nations develop their own Sustainable Tourism programs. Not bad for having a great time.<br />What difference will Your choice make?<br />
  16. 16. However, there is one thing that works even better in advertising than the Five Leaves.<br />It’s called Pura Vida ;-)<br />This presentation was created by Mario Gamper,Ideas will travel and Geinier Guzman, Manager of La Cusinga Rainforest Lodge<br />All pictures were taken at La Cusinga Rainforest Lodge (Uvita), except pp 7. & 10 at Asana turtle hatchery.<br />