Certification for Sustainable Tourism Program

Borinquen Resort Hotel Pool
Borinquen Resort Hotel Pool

Developed by the Sustainability Programs Department of the Costa Rica Tourism Board and the Costa Rica National Accreditation Commission, Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST) was designed for the tourism sector businesses so as to comply them with a sustainable model of natural, cultural and communal reserve management.

Ecologist Pioneer

The Certification for Sustainable Tourism Program has ensured Costa Rica’s position as a pioneer of ecological tourism, reinforcing its reputation as a destination for those who wish to conserve the natural environment. Since 1997 Costa Rica has been working on an initiative to expanding the CST throughout the country. Currently the intergovernmental organizations are working for piloting this project to the nearby geographical areas, especially the Caribbean coastline.

Costa Rica Tourist Institute (ICT) is the official entity responsible for this program. Regulated by the National Accreditation Committee, it consists of a scale of five levels of responsible tourism achievement. The activities and services offered by businesses under the Certification for Sustainable Tourism Program ensure that minimal negative impact is made on the surrounding natural environment.


The Certification for Sustainable Tourism Program is designed for all companies of the tourism sector. However initially in its first stage CST applied only to the hotel and lodge sector as they are labeled as Eco Hotels. Participation in this program is entirely voluntary and CST remains open to all hotels, inns, lodges, resorts that wish to play a part in Costa Rica’s conservation efforts. It is mainly due to this Sustainable Tourism Program that Costa Rica has been able to protect its natural areas. The revenue earned from this goes to park protection and offers the local community employment opportunities.

CST grants companies a seal of approval for demonstrating environmentally and socially sound practices. Helping motivate the tourism industry to develop environmentally sound products this certification also serves as a useful marketing tool. The program evaluates each tourism company on the four fundamental aspects – physical biological parameters, infrastructure and services, external clients and the socio-economic environment.

Improve the Resources

The Certification for Sustainable Tourism Program teaches best management practices, conducting certification assessments, offering training sessions and promoting the certification within the environmental markets. It motivates the tourism companies and executives to improve the use of company resources, promoting economic growth and effective utilization. This tends to have a positive impact on the natural environment as well as in the socio-economic sphere, leading to a demand for recycling, energy saving, proper waste disposal, conservation of the natural environment and better system management.

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