Today the Osa Peninsula’s most beautiful beach, full of turtle nests, has been destroyed by bulldozer and backhoes. The municipalidad in Golfito is tearing apart everything beautiful about the OSA. HELP!
Back in September, 2008 the Tico Times Directory started to receive emails like the one above.
Now the questions, has the peaceful Central American nation tourist reputation on protecting rain forests, volcanoes and gorgeous nature preserves threatened? Is there controversy that Costa Rica’s balance for tourism clashes with a regard for ecology?
The nation’s tourist industry has doubled since 2000. In 2008, it brought in about 2 million visitors and generated approximately $2.5 billion in revenue, thus making it Costa Rica’s second largest source of income after silicon chip production.
In the past Costa Rica’s eco-tourism industry and products, consisted of small resorts, lodges, B & Bs, private tours, such a visit to the butterfly farms. They were run by locals, a few foreign expatriates, ex-hippies who immigrated to Costa Rica starting in the mid-1970s, and descendants of American Quakers who moved there in the 1950s. Now it seems the above incident demonstrates how “ecotourism” is being corporate run and marketed with greedy development.
Costa Rica is a leader in biodiversity and known World-wide, its reputation as an eco-paradise had always balanced corporate development with protection of the environment. However, the country’s constantly evolving government policies have been challenged. It is still common knowledge that government does look the other way. Rumors of bribes and kickbacks have always surface when someone’s pocket is open with a turned back. Osa Peninsula is a prime example where ecology was replaced with high-profit developments.
Governments enforcement of protected areas is now being jeopardize by its lack of funding from both private and government, poor eco management, exploitation of local and illegal work forces, and uncertain support within local political leaders.
There are many who believe that the hype of eco-friendly has been overrated and only a ploy to attract tourist to a country that hypes “dedicated to environment”. One of the chief criticisms is that most ecotourism projects are neither economically nor environmentally sustainable in the long-run.
For example, the Northern Pacific coast has had a construction boom with mega hotels chains. Others, have turned Bay of Papagayo on the Pacific Coast into a mega-resort area with high-rise hotels, golf courses, and malls. And Jaco, last year had the eye sore of tower cranes that dominated the skyline, caused by local and foreign investors.
Environmentalist now argue corporate development is truly the end of ecotourism in Costa Rica.