Costa Rica’s lauded ecotourism industry is under new, and not always positive, scrutiny.
Community-based ecotourism is getting raves for creating jobs in agricultural areas, where tourists delight in glimpsing and sharing a day in the life of a Costa Rican farmer, Inter Press Service reports.
President Oscar Arias approved a law in July to support “agro-ecotourism” as a way to let small farmers and some indigenous communities share in the tourism boom.
Yet another law protecting coastal resources is being used to remove impoverished communities living on beachfront plots on or near ecotourism destinations.
Lacking titles to land they say their families have occupied for decades, residents near the Ostional Wildlife Refuge, a haven for sea turtles on Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast, are set for removal.
“They want to get rid of us like a bunch of dogs,” one resident told Latin America Press.
Evictions and demolitions under the law have targeted communities near prime beach ecosystems and surfing spots, according to reports.
One official, Mayor Alberto Cole of Osa, made national headlines when he invited a condominium and resort developer into the same region where an older woman’s home was razed.
Federal legislators are considering a new law to protect longtime residents and limit large resort projects, but many community members are considered squatters, and do not have papers proving their tenancy.
“TOURISM-COSTA RICA: Much More Than a Walk in the Countryside”
Inter Press Service, August 15, 2009
“Environmentalism at a cost”
Latinamerican Press, July 23, 2009