In Costa Rica and the Hotel Cristal Ballena
Why tourism must be sustainable?
Costa Rica with its small size of 51,100 square kilometers, equivalent to 0.03% of the land surface of the earth is the refuge of more than 3% percent of the planet’s biodiversity. This country has a serious commitment to the preservation of natural and cultural resources, offering visitors a model of tourism that respects the environment. The Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST) is a program sponsored by the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT) used to categorize and differentiate tourism businesses based on their level of environmental and social commitment. It is a voluntary program that grants green leaves, by way of qualification programs for sustainable tourism businesses based mainly in four aspects.
- Interaction of the hotel with surrounding environment, including flora and fauna, natural resources, community and cultural resources.
- Implement policies and procedures to ensure proper handling of waste and saving energy and water resources.
- Invitation and involvement of staff and guests in decisions and eco-friendly actions
- Supporting the local community in terms of employment generation, social, cultural or economic benefits.
What does CST mean for the tourist business?
Getting the first level means that the company has taken the first step on the road or integrated sustainability process. The following levels correspond to increasingly advanced stages evaluated in the specific, peaking with obtaining Level 5, a situation in which a company considered as exemplary in terms of sustainability would be found. Subsequent categorization is performed according to the following scheme:
Sustainability in the Hotel Cristal Ballena
Our commitment with sustainability
The Hotel is located just beside the Marino Ballena National Park (MBNP), a protected area where you can find coral reefs and is a sanctuary for breeding and reproduction of whales, dolphins, turtles and sea birds and other endangered species. Cristal Ballena is located in an area of 12 hectares in the catchment area of the National Park, surrounded by the forests of the Fila Costeña mountains, through fresh rivers and streams flow into the park. We summarize some of the achievements that help in preserving hotel property ecosystems, MBNP, and enhance the capabilities of the social environment at surrounding communities of Playa Hermosa, Uvita, Bahia Ballena and Tortuga Ojochal.
1. Energy saving
Hotel facilities include energy efficient bulbs and air conditioners, solar panels for water heating, reminders for guests and staff to turn off lights and electrical systems. Customers are also encouraged to indicate if they want or not daily change of towels, to minimize our laundry service electricity.
2. Conservation of water resources
The hotel has its own water source, a well inside the property and a channeled nascent pristine. Bathrooms, showers and sinks are equipped with pressure regulators water in all faucets to reduce consumption and use biodegradable products certified in both personal care and cleaning. After several bio digestive treatments of the waters we end the process with a bio filter with native plants to return the water as clean as it reached our hotel.
3. Solid Waste Management.
Our staff had been trained in efficient separation of recyclable solid waste, and we generate our own organic fertilizer through composting and vermicomposting residues from our kitchen. One of our policies is to reduce a lot of packaging products, opting for fresh local produce, especially fruits and vegetables produced locally. In addition to our regular employees organize and participate in community cleanups beaches in Marino Ballena National Park.
4. Biodiversity Conservation
How not to protect that with which you most enjoy? We have tropical gardens with a high percentage of native plants, which have been properly labeled for visitor education. We collaborate with the project’s protect animals Costanera Sur (PRASCOSUR) in order to minimize road deaths due to collisions with wildlife, analyzing animal crossings for the installation of wildlife crossings, and informational road signals. We offer our support to local environmentalist NGOs such as Keto (Cetacea) Reserva Playa Tortuga (coastal ecosystems) and Huen Tebec (terrestrial fauna) in organizing events and activities.
5. Social Community Support
In this respect the hotel works financially and with material resources in many social aspects:
- Encouraging children and youth by sponsoring sports kits for football clubs
- Improving facilities of Liceo Uvita and public health center EBAIS
- Team Lifeguard on Playa Hermosa, you can buy shirts and hats to support this program
- Sale and exhibition of indigenous Boruca arts in the souvenir boutique where you can acquire indigenous arts.
6. Child Protection
Our company has signed the Code of Conduct for the protection of children against sexual exploitation. This program was created as an initiative of ECPAT International World Tourism Organization (WTO) and with it the involvement and commitment of the tourism industry to discourage and punish the commercial sexual exploitation of children and adolescents associated with travel and tourism. Tourism companies who join this initiative, shall comply with the following criteria:
- Establish an ethical policy of zero tolerance of Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents and to train their staff.
- To introduce a clause in contracts with suppliers, certifying its position against commercial sexual exploitation of minors.
- Provide information to travelers by different means: leaflets, stickers, videos, and more.
- Provide information to key stakeholders in the destination and submit an annual compliance report.
7. Supporting local NGO’s – Be the change that you want to see in the world
Our small bussiness considers that cooperation with local NGO’s, working in the area where the hotel is located, is a question of corporate responsability, that must be known by our guests. If you visit our forests and our beaches, and enjoy our wildlife, maybe you want to help to preserve it, as we do, collaborating with long-term stablished organizations like ASANA.
ASANA (Friends of Nature in South Pacific Association) focuses their efforts and resources in the protection of the Path the Tapir Biological Corridor, where our Hotel is located, and also including small communities like Uvita, Dominical and Ojochal, connecting forest patches between Corcovado National Park, and Terraba Sierpe National Wetlands, with Los Quetzales National Park in the highest mountains of Talamanca. They work on education, conservation and protection of the water resources of this region, co-work with the Environmental Ministry to enforce biodiversity laws and fight against enviromental crimes.
If you want to collaborate, you can make your donation through the Global Giving Program, that you can find under the following link.
To know more about ASANA and their work, you always are welcome to visit their website