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World’s Happiest Country Has Reason to Rejoice: 2017 Declared ‘International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development’ by UN

November 22, 2016 Destination Global No Comments Email Email

Costa Rica, the world’s happiest country and a global leader in sustainability, will surely be rejoicing – the United Nations has declared 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for DevelopmentAccording to UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Fifai, the declaration brings “a unique opportunity to advance the contribution of the tourism sector to the three pillars of sustainability – economic, social and environmental, while raising awareness of the true dimensions of a sector which is often undervalued.”


Costa Rica is ahead of the world, producing nearly 93 percent of its electricity from renewable resources and conserving around 30 percent of its national territory.  The country is also on track to become the first carbon neutral nation in just a few years.  At the forefront of Costa Rica’s sustainable tourism is the Cayuga Collection, comprising ecolodges, resorts, and sustainable hotels throughout Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

About The Cayuga Collection:  All Cayuga properties specialise in creating the symbiosis of sustainability and luxury, always providing a sense of place by taking into account local culture and customs.  To Cayuga, sustainability is about more than reusing your towel twice and environmental initiatives.  The luxury hospitality group earned a Condé Nast Traveler World Savers award in 2010 and 2012 for its social responsibility, and a Travel + Leisure Global Vision award for Environmental Leadership in 2010.  Its properties have earned four and five leaves from the country’s Cámara Nacional de Ecoturismo.  Cayuga works with local communities to train and employ local people and improve local living and learning conditions.  Each of its properties is involved in conservation and community development, and the company even created a public charity called Equilibrium to further its reach and impact.  For more information about all of Cayuga’s properties and experiences, visit

“Respect for the environment is a critical part of our work and each of our properties maintain the highest level of environmental sustainability ratings, but that’s not the end of our sustainability work,” says Hans Pfister, Cayuga’s president. “Our approach to sustainability aims to assist the communities around us by creating educational and economic opportunities. Our guest experience is not compromised, but instead enhanced, by sustainability.”

As the Cayuga Collection’s carbon footprint and environmental impact shrinks, human resources initiatives like guaranteed year-round employment, funding and even transportation for higher education, commitment to hiring locally and promoting from within earn Cayuga an enviable employee retention rate.  An added bonus is that when senior managers leave they take their skills as sustainable hospitality operators to other properties so that more communities may benefit.  Cayuga Director, Hans Pfister, assures that “guest experience is not compromised, but instead enhanced, by sustainability.”

Here’s how Cayuga’s luxurious properties are helping their communities:

Arenas Del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort (Manuel Antonio)

The rural 450-person community of Sabalo, a short drive away from Manuel Antonio, needed a way to process recyclables. Earth Equilibrium, with financial assistance from guests at Arenas Del Mar, helped them build a new recycling plant and developed a sustainability training program for the school. 

Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation Resort (Central Valley)

The Food Bank is Barrio Jesus, where many employees at the hotel live, is run by Finca Rosa Blanca. This food bank offers hot meals to over 70 people in need every day. The Finca Rosa Blanca team is also hard at work to finish the brand new recycling centre in the food bank, which will service the whole community. 

Kura Design Villas (Uvita)

The students at the Uvita middle school had a whole new oceans education program in 2015 thanks to the hard work of Martin and Alejandra, the owners of the ultra-exclusive Kura Design Villas.

Lapa Rios Ecolodge (Puerto Jimenez, Osa Peninsula)

The newest library in the Osa Peninsula region is now open! With help from Lapa Rios and Earth Equilibrium a new program called “Books To Fly” has put new libraries in three schools around Puerto Jimenez. The five-year plan includes adding 13 more libraries to the region’s schools.

Latitude 10 Beach Resort (Santa Teresa, Nicoya Peninsula)

The high school in Santa Teresa has a new climate change curriculum developed with help from Latitude 10 and Earth Equilibrium. The course is seven weeks long and its focus is to create agents of change out of the 30 students. 

Jicaro Island Ecolodge (Granada, Nicaragua)

Padre Nello School is more than just an educational facility, for the community it is a gathering place and now it is also a place where residents can come to get fresh purified water. Our sustainability efforts also helped the school purchase solar panels and lights for the school.

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