By: Tamarindo News Staff
Costa Rica´s diverse nature, its traditional and rich culture and its variety of destinations are the necessary components to satisfy the likes of international and national visitors.
Many areas are visited every year by thousands of people that require services from a tourism industry that continues to develop local activities to boost the economies of the regions where they are established.
No doubt, Tamarindo represents one of these destinations. In order to measure how tourism activities affect a community´s social progress, the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) has established research in ten cantons where tourism industry has been increasing for the last two decades and that show different developmental levels.
The research resulted in the Social Progress Index (SPI) methodology for tourism destinations. To gather the information, the ICT hired INCAE Business School, who then issued a survey to almost 7,000 people in 2,034 homes.
The communities under study were: La Fortuna, Papagayo, Tamarindo, Santa Teresa (Puntarenas), Monteverde, Bahía Drake, Tortuguero, Puerto Viejo, San Gerardo (Zona de Los Santos) and Manuel Antonio. These places were registered high (more than 75) and medium-high (between 65 and 75) levels, which, according to the ICT, show that the residents interviewed reported satisfactory levels of perception regarding tourism´s contribution to social progress in these areas. Tamarindo obtained a mark of 69.92, which is considered a medium-high progress index.
La Fortuna de San Carlos in Alajuela reached the highest progress level: 77.88 points in an index that ranks 100 as the highest, and 0 as the worst mark. Los Santos and Monteverde were the second and third positions, respectively. These three places obtained a high social progress index, which implies that they generate a high social contribution to their communities.
According to Roberto Artavia from INCAE, the study was approached from three dimensions: basic human needs, foundations of well-being and opportunities afforded by tourism, as well as from 12 thematic components intended to get a holistic view about social progress related to the tourism activities.
Additionally, Minister of Tourism Mauricio Ventura, explained that thanks to the PSI, it was confirmed that tourism destinations encourage social progress in topics related to physical, human and natural capital. He also said that most inhabitants of these communities (93.8%) found tourism activities positive given that the industry improves income, employment and economical growth.
“The tourism industry has always been considered an engine that contributes to local economies with uncountable benefits. Therefore, we decided to measure the PSI in 10 tourism centers in order to promote a strategic analysis in Costa Rica, which then allows us to endorse innovative joint actions by the State, civil society and private businesses to strengthen tourism and note its positive impact on these communities,” the Minister said.
Costa Rica became the first country to measure social progress. The PSI was introduced at a press conference by Ventura, who was joined by Rodolfo Lizano, Director of Planning and Development for ICT, and Roberto Artavia, President of the Board of Directors of INCAE.
The ICT plans to analyze each of the 32 Costa Rican tourism centers by the end of 2017, according to Ventura.
Thereafter, improvement measures will be determined in every destination. The ICT hopes to achieve a better identification of social and environmental priorities at these centers.
Indicators that showed better performance in tourism destinations were nutrition and basic medical care; water and sewage, housing and personal safety; access to information and communication; environmental quality and access to higher education.
On the other hand, aspects to be improved are related to access to basic knowledge; health and wellbeing; personal rights; personal freedom and choice; and tolerance and inclusion.
“Today we can say that tourism generates a positive impact on the communities and their inhabitants. The PSI measure demonstrated that in tourism centers there is a better quality of life in relation to the cantons.
This tool allows us to produce more effective work to generate an inclusive and sustainable growth, consistent with our tourism development model.
This identifies us and eventually differentiates us from other countries in the world,” concluded Ventura.
The ICT identified safety and language learning, such as English, as an improvement measure determined by the project. The Institute explained that they are working along with the Ministry of Safety to strengthen the Tourism Police and with the Ministry of Education to develop improvements in language learning.
Infrastructure related to internet and telecommunication services will be improved in tourism destinations as well.