A study led by professionals from Stanford University, in the United States, concludes that the sites in Costa Rica with the greatest animal diversity and with better access are most visited by tourists from all over the world.
In the document, scientists make a call to preserve the environment and generate more infrastructure with the least possible impact on nature. In this way, the economic profits generated by tourism in the country could be increased.
To carry out the study, data was taken from NASA and from digital platforms through which tourists upload photographs of their trips (Flickr) or about bird sightings (eBirds).
Variables such as the distance from the tourist spots to the streets and water intakes were also analyzed. Another factor that was taken into account is the influence of hotel density. On the other hand, universal access data on the amount of species diversity in the country were analyzed.
“Throughout Costa Rica we find that tourism increases with the wealth of birdlife, the wealth of endangered or endemic birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals. “Tourism tends to decrease when the distance to roads, protected areas and water increase,” the document states.
The Ministry of Environment and Energy (Minae), the Central Bank of Costa Rica and other United States institutions also participated in the analysis of the data. “Our results indicate that if Costa Rica invests in the development of infrastructure and the conservation of diversity, they will continue to obtain economic benefits from their natural assets,” says the report published in 2022.
Tourists “bird watchers” became one of the main inputs for researchers, due to the registration they keep on the eBird platform. Through these data, they found the sites preferred by this segment of the population, according to their conditions.
“Even for bird watchers, being close to a road is a better indicator of where they are going than the richness of endangered or endemic bird species,” the document says.
Take care to increase profits
The La Amistad International Park could have less tourism than the current one if infrastructure is developed here, without taking into account guidelines that protect the environment.
“We conclude that the degradation of the country’s ecosystems could negatively impact the country’s economy,” say the experts. But at the same time, and due to a chain effect, if there is less biodiversity there will be fewer tourists. Therefore, fewer companies that subsist due to said economic activity and a smaller number of jobs. The report recalls that in Costa Rica tourism generates about 160,000 direct jobs and 450,000 indirectly.