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    The Country Recognized for Its Leadership in Sustainable Tourism Development

    Costa Rica, the leader and pioneer of sustainable tourism, has been chosen to head the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Executive Council starting this year. The UNWTO met in Madrid in October 14 – 15 and appointed Carlos Ricardo Benavides, Minister of Tourism of Costa Rica, to lead the Executive Council of this international organization.

    This designation is a major milestone and it confirms it´s image as a world leader in the tourism arena. The country has been a member of the Council for three years and is a member of the World Committee on Tourism Ethics, as well as the Sustainable Development Committee. Since 2001, the UNWTO had not appointed the chairmanship title to a representative from the Americas, and it is the first time that Costa Rica serves as such.

    Carlos Ricardo Benavides will take office immediately and serve throughout 2009. Benavides assumes this leading position in a historical period when the UNWTO will be electing a new Secretary General.

    “The appointment is a high recognition of Costa Rica’s efforts in sustainable tourism. Our country has become a model and leader in this arena,” said Benavides. “This position plays an important role within the WTO as it help to lead and approve the Executive Council’s programs. We will oversee important topics such as poverty eradication through tourism in developing countries, fair economic distribution, as well as conservation, protection and adequate use of natural resources,” he added.

    UNWTO is a specialized agency of the United Nations and the leading international organization for the field of tourism. Created in 1925, the organization plays a central role in promoting the development of responsible and sustainable tourism around the world. Its membership includes 154 countries and territories and more than 350 affiliate members representing the private sector, educational institutions, associations and local tourism authorities.

    International world tourist arrivals experienced an increase of 903 million in 2007, representing an annual growth rate of 6.6 percent. According to the UNWTO, the increase in international tourist arrivals is projected to be around 3 percent for 2008. In the case of Costa Rica, the increase is projected to be around 10 percent. Last year the country closed with a total of 1.9 million international tourist arrivals. The revenue generated by international tourists reached a historic high of US$1.9 billion, making its tourism industry the main generator of revenue for the country.

    About Costa Rica Costa Rica is located in Central America, nestled between Nicaragua and Panama, and bordered on the east by the Caribbean Sea and the west by the Pacific Ocean. This small country represents only .01 % of the planet’s surface and it shelters almost 4% of the existing world’s biodiversity. It has given priority to the conservation of its natural resources, protecting 26% of its national territory through the creation of National Parks and other natural areas.

    The country also offers world-class eco-tourism and adventure travel. The options are unlimited for any discriminating traveler: horseback riding on a secluded beach; hiking through the lush whispering greenery of a rainforest; having an exhilarating experience on a white-water rafting trip, observing the tropical forests from a canopy tour; surfing the blue waves of either coast; experiencing a quite, close encounter with different species of birds and wildlife; and enjoying the diverse culture and hospitality of the Ticos.

    About the Costa Rica Tourist Board The Costa Rica Tourist Board, created in 1955, is an autonomous institution of the State, responsible for regulating the tourism activity in Costa Rica and promoting Costa Rica’s tourism attractions and destinations both at a national and international level. The Costa Rica Tourist Board creates tourism norms, regulations, incentives and grants the tourist declaratory for Costa Rica’s hotels, travel agencies, rental cars and other tourism organization and service provider.

    For general travel or tourism information about Costa Rica, contact the Costa Rica Tourist Board directly at 1-866-267-8274 or visit their web site at www.visitcostarica.com.

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