Type: M.E.S. Papers/Theses
This paper explores the role of tourism as a tool for sustainable development. It focuses on a rural area in Southern Costa Rica that encompasses the Las Nubes Biological Reserve, Los Cusingos Neotropical Bird Sanctuary, the biological corridor within the watershed located between the two reserves, and the surrounding region.
It is argued that a universal model for sustainable tourism does not exist as such, but that similar sets of principles exist for such successful example of sustainable tourism and that each particular destination should accomodate these principles according to its unique features. Thus, this paper describes the region of study, presents the research methodology and the results. In a survey stakeholders indicated their degree of interest to integrate tourism as an alternative activity to support the conservation of the natural environments and their resources.
It is further argued that meeting tourist's preferences plays a critical role for the economic, environmental and social sustainability of destinations. The results of a survey carried out in Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve in northern Costa Rica are presented as comparative data.
The principal conclusion is that sustainable tourism in the region has potential to improve the socio-economic well being of local communities while supporting the conservation of biodiversity and other ecosystem functions.