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Sustainable Tourism Certification

On May 17, 2021 ARA Tours proudly obtained the Elite level of Sustainability Certification, the highest level of Tourism Sustainability in Costa Rica granted by the Costa Rican Tourism Institute.

Update of the New Sustainability Tool CST 2.0

At the end of 2018, a restructuring of the old tool for the Certification of Tourism Sustainability in Costa Rica known as CST was carried out, now called CST 2.0.

This new restructuring succeeds in adapting international parameters to this new tool, addressing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and including the criteria of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (CGTS).

The last tool had 20 years from its first edition so it was necessary to apply an update. The main objectives of the new CST 2.0 program are:

  • Be the instrument through which Costa Rica manages to differentiate itself in the world as a sustainable tourist destination.
  • Provide reliable information about certified tourism companies or organizations.
  • Establish sustainability as an element of competitiveness within the tourism companies and organizations that make up the tourism sector at the national level.
  • To be an innovative, efficient and updated program that incorporates technological advances according to the needs and that provides an added value of high impact to the tourism market.
  • That the CST standard meets the criteria of the Responsible Tourism System of the World Tourism Organization and Objectives and the Global Objectives for Sustainable Development of the United Nations (UN).

On the other hand, this technical tool aims to strengthen the sustainable tourism activity of Costa Rica, being an acknowledgment to the management of companies and organizations that actively work to mitigate the impacts resulting from their operation, strengthening social, cultural, environmental, economic work and development of tourist destinations.

With the last evaluation, the companies were categorized according to their level of compliance in leaves (1 to 5 leaves). Now, with the new tool, there will be only two categories:

Basic Level:

Requires compliance by the applicant with 100% of the mandatory criteria and indicators stipulated in the CST Standard.

Elite Level:

Requires the applicant to demonstrate the improvement and continuity of the management process at a minimum of 30% and an external impact of 70% according to the criteria and indicators of the CST 2.0 Standard.

This tool comes to adapt to the different structures of organizations (small, medium and large companies) so that the tool will be structured according to the size of each company.

Another modification of the new tool is to eliminate the figure of the evaluator who was in charge of visiting each company to do the verification of the evidence "in situ". Now, this figure will be called auditor, who will review the evidence of each company that was previously placed in the digital platform and he will make a field visit only when he considers it necessary.

In this way, the face-to-face visits by ICT representatives to the companies will no longer be carried out under this new model.

With this new digital platform, each company must upload all its evidence, in order to be analyzed by this auditor. The ICT Sustainability Department was trained to perform the corresponding audits.

Regarding the new digital platform, the areas of the last tool were maintained but a new one was added: Specific Indicator that will be evaluated according to the type of tourism activity. For example: Car rental company, Lodging company, Tour operators, etc.

These are the areas that will be evaluated with the new tool:

  • Business Management.
  • Social Economic and Cultural Impact.
  • Environmental Impact.
  • Specific Indicators.

Under each area, there will be several questions from which companies must support their answers with evidence and upload them to the digital platform. In case of any question, additional information will be available following the icon or symbol "i".

The areas will be divided according to three criteria according to their modality:

Obligatory Criteria

  • It is the basic level of compliance with the standard.
  • It is mandatory. They are based on the Original CST.
  • It is based on international regulations.
  • Designed to be fulfilled by small, medium and large companies.

Improvement and Continuity

  • Highest level of the process.
  • Look for impact on internal and external actors directly related to the organization.
  • Voluntary compliance, but progress must be demonstrated for renewal.
  • It incorporates other indicators of the original CST.

External Impact

  • It is the level that gives the "elite" distinction of certification.
  • For those who have contributed beyond their company in the improvement of the destination (community).

What are the benefits of having the CST 2.0?

  • Access to information on environmentally friendly technologies and all other information necessary to apply the CR standard, depending on your operation.
  • Specific promotional material of the CST Program.
  • Differentiated promotion in tourism activities and fairs nationally and internationally, and priority technical and logistical support for their participation in them.
  • Exemption or discount depending on the level obtained after the audit, and will be applied as follows: Basic Level: 60% at the stand of International Fairs in which the ICT participates and Elite Level: 100% at the stand of International Fairs in which the ICT participates.
  • Participation in events, seminars and workshops organized by the ICT to share or discuss the scope of the CST certificate.

  • Presence of the company or tourist organization on the exclusive page of the CST program.
  • Authorization to use the link of the CST program website in its promotion.
  • Priority of the training and training programs on social, cultural and environmental issues.
  • Participation in press trips giving priority to business or tourism organizations with the CST.
  • Other benefits that the ICT can manage before other national and international organizations.

Also, with this new tool, new categories of tourist activities are implemented, previously there were 6 categories, now it is increased to 9 categories:

Rental cars


Tour Operators

Protected Areas

Lodging companies

Gastronomy companies

Sustainable Theme Parks

Institutions and organizations

Hot Springs and spa companies

For tourists, selecting a company with CST assures them that the company is responsible in its business management processes and avoids, as far as possible, having impacts on the environment, culture and its social environment. 

For more information see the following link: http://www.turismo-sostenible.co.cr

Contact Information

WhatsApp: +506-8893-3863
Phone: +506-2232-0400
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San José, Costa Rica

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