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Costa Rican Hotels Improved Sustainability with the Rainforest Alliance

February 4, 2009

Hotels that signed on with the Rainforest Alliance to execute new study released by the Rainforest Alliance.

In a period of 18 months, five hotels in the Sarapiquí region in northern Costa Rica increased overall compliance to 7.8 from 4.5 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being non-compliance and 10 being full compliance. Criteria cover environmental aspects such as wastewater treatment and wildlife protection, social aspects such as worker safety and community interaction, and business aspects such as profitability and quality of services.

Collectively, hotels increased compliance in all criteria categories, showing their dedication to advancing sustainability, even if they were only able to afford small improvements at first. Areas with the highest level of improvement were "Sociocultural Activities," which could be supporting local artisans, or hiring local people, "Monitoring and Corrective Action" (e.g. monitoring water consumption, or writing hotel management policies) and "Solid Waste."

"These hotels improved interactions with their environment, communities, guests and staff and set themselves apart in a competitive global marketplace," said Ronald Sanabria, director of Rainforest Alliance's sustainable tourism program. "As a result, the Sarapiquí region is seen as a major destination for sustainable tourism."

Hacienda Pozo Azul spent $6,000 dollars to implement its sustainable program, which included buying an anaerobic digester to process wastewater and organic wastes, and the small hotel has so far seen a savings of $150 dollars per month on reduced electricity bills alone. Other hotels included in the study were Ara Ambigua, La Quinta Country Inn, Organization for Tropical Studies-La Selva and Selva Verde Lodge and Rainforest Reserve. The hotels are continuing to improve their compliance ratings, and the Rainforest Alliance is collecting data on 258 other hotels completing the same program.

The Rainforest Alliance's Best Management Practices (BMP) program provides tourism operations with dynamic workshops and seminars, training materials, technical assistance and diagnostic evaluations.

The Rainforest Alliance recently partnered with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations Foundation and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) to establish the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria, which are universal guidelines for sustainable tourism.

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