These Are the 32 Beach and Mountain Sites in Costa Rica that Drive Tourism and Community Development

    Improving the Social Progress Index of these regions is one of the objectives of the National Tourism Plan

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    Beaches, rivers, mountains, volcanoes, waterfalls and forests are part of the natural beauties of the country that attract millions of tourists a year. Papagayo, Santa Teresa, Manuel Antonio, Puerto Viejo and La Fortuna are some of the 32 favorite sites for visitors, who enjoy the “Pura Vida” atmosphere and climate that Costa Rica offers its visitors.

    Since 2019, the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT) undertook the task of determining the 32 most important tourist destinations in the country, which it called Tourism Development Centers and whose primary objective is to determine the impact of tourism in these communities.

    These Development Centers can be defined as a portion of the tourist space whose concentration of high-ranking attractions, services in general, plant and tourist equipment, allow it to attract, more or less constantly, tourist flows that stay at least one night, according to the National Tourism Plan 2022-2027.

    “We cannot lose sight of the fact that tourism’s raison d’être is a social reason, we have lost that dimension and at ICT we do a lot of things that should make them more visible,” William Rodríguez, Minister of Tourism, recently said.

    Tourist Development Centers

    To quantify these contributions, the Social Progress Index (IPS) was created, in collaboration with the Latin American Center for Competitiveness and Sustainable Development (CLACDS), and thus measure the well-being of local people in the communities.

    The average tourist IPS, in the 32 development centers, was 71.8 for 2019 when the last measurement was made; however, one of the three main objectives of the National Tourism Plan is that, within a period of five years, each of these destinations reaches or exceeds the level of 70 points.

    La Fortuna, Monteverde, San Vito, Los Santos, Turrialba, Dominical, Papagayo, Punta Islita, Santa Teresa and Limón were the ten best Tourism Development Centers in 2019, and a post-pandemic measurement is awaiting.

    As part of this strategy, the country developed Tourist-Cultural Guides, which aim to highlight the cultural, historical and natural beauties of these regions, for all those national and foreign visitors eager to discover the country’s tourist offer.

    Maps, tours, activities, handicrafts, gastronomy, rural tourism and among others, are part of the information that tourists can find in the ten Guides and 11 Mini-Guides produced to date and which are available on the ICT website.

    Recommendations to tourists in sections such as “Ten things that every tourist must do and see” and “What you must try”, as well as the access routes of the tourist corridors that connect all these regions, is part of the material that visitors have by hand.

    Attracting investments to all these regions is what the ICT plans for the next five years, mainly in very specific places, such as the Papagayo Tourist Pole, the South Pacific and the province of Limón.

    “The South Pacific is another area of ​​the country where without a doubt the future of tourism is in Costa Rica, another one is the Caribbean Zone, keep it in mind for that of tourism investment”, Rodríguez added.

    To promote the development of these 32 destinations, the Integral Management of Tourist Destinations Program (PGIDT) was created, with the intention of monitoring tourism competitiveness, increasing employment and generating better living conditions for the inhabitants of the communities.

    These are the tourist sites that generate the most attraction for visitors

    Tourist Units Tourist Development Centers

    • Guanacaste Polo Papagayo, El Coco, Flamingo, Conchal, Tamarindo, Sámara and Islita
    • Puntarenas Santa Teresa, Montezuma, Tambor and Monteverde
    • Middle Pacific Jacó and Manuel Antonio
    • South Pacific Drake, Pérez Zeledón, Puerto Jiménez, Golfito Dominical and San Vito
    • Caribbean Tortuguero, Parismina, Limón, Cahuita and Puerto Viejo
    • Northern Plains La Fortuna, Sarapiquí, Bijagua and Caño Negro

    Central Valley San José, Los Santos and Turrialba

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