What began in 1985 as a simple dream to pursue a love of paddling, provide jobs for fellow Costa Ricans and support rainforest land protection developed into Rios Tropicales, Costa Rica’s award-winning adventure company and geotourism leader. Skål International’s 2014 Sustainable Tourism Awards follows an evaluation carried out by three independent judges with scores summed at the Skål Secretariat. The project getting the highest score is declared winner in the respective category. “We’re honored to receive this award recognizing our consistent programs and principles that support replicable, community-driven, sustainable tourism,” says Rios Tropicales President and Cofounder Rafael Gallo.
Rios Tropicales runs its adventure company with a foundation of sustainability principles that benefit all its stakeholders: employees, local communities, tourists and the environment. One of its signature projects, involving the nearby village of El Tigre, exemplifies how Rios Tropicales engages with the local community and environment, and innovates with private-public funding partnerships to promote sustainability and conservation.
The El Tigre South-South Project is an international collaboration between the Republic of Costa Rica and the Kingdom of the Bhutan, involving the rural community of El Tigre, and the newly created Association of Bhutanese Outfitters. The South-South project transformed El Tigre into a sustainable community tourism destination, providing income, jobs, education, while prioritizing conservation and protection of the fragile rainforest environment. For more information, watch the El Tigre mini-documentary video.
The following quotations from the Skål international judges illustrate why Rios Tropicales won this honor:
Rios Tropicales is an international best-practice model for how adventure ecotourism can be used as a tool of education, conservation, community empowerment and sustainable rural development.
A true model of community development for sustainable tourism that is long-term and replicable.
…development of tourism clusters and adventure routes as a tool to support and empower the local community to develop their own tourism initiatives is highly commendable.
The winners will be honored at the 75th Skål World Congress to be held in Mexico City on Sunday, October 26, 2014.