Costa Rica has a pioneering system in Latin America that’s called the Certification for Sustainable Tourism. In this system, hotels and tour operators undergo an extensive evaluation that must be renewed every two years.
Hotels and operators that pass the evaluation get graded on a scale from one to five “leaves”, which indicate the level to which they have achieved sustainable practices. Hotels and operators with one leaf have achieved at least 20% of the requirements, and those with five leaves have to have achieved more than 95%. The requirements include four areas for assessment: natural environment, infrastructure and services, customer education and socio-economic environment.
The hotel or operator’s final score will be the lowest score achieved out of the four areas. That way, firms have to work hard in all aspects to succeed in the certification!
The certification is voluntary and free, so it is possible for some companies to be working very hard on their sustainable practices but still not have been awarded the certification. Don’t be shy to ask people as you go along what their sustainable practices are.
To find out how many leaves a certain hotel or operator has, simply look on their website or at the front desk.