The Importance of Ecotourism as a Development and ... of Ecotourism Osa... · The Importance of Ecotourism

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    The Importance of Ecotourism as a

    Development and Conservation Tool in the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica

    Prepared by Laura Driscoll, Carter Hunt, Martha Honey and William Durham

    Center for Responsible Travel (CREST)

    April 2011  

       

    Washington, DC ■ 1333 H St., NW ■ Suite 300 East Tower ■ Washington, DC 20005 ■ P: 202‐347‐9203 ■ F: 202‐775‐0819  Stanford University ■ 450 Serra Mall, Building 50, Room 51D ■ Stanford, CA 94305 ■ P: 650‐723‐0894 ■ F: 650‐725‐0605 

    www.responsibletravel.org ■ www.travelersphilanthropy.org ■ info@responsibletravel.org     

    mailto:info@responsibletravel.org

  • Acknowledgements  

    This study was made possible through a grant from the Tinker Foundation. We are especially grateful to Meg Cushing, Senior Program Officer, for her support and interest in this project. Stanford University provided additional support for student participants. We are very grateful to Fundacion Corcovado, especially to Alejandra Monge and Paola Lafuente Valenciano, for their assistance throughout the complexities of fieldwork logistics in the Osa. In addition, special thanks are due Alexi Huntley-Khajavi and the management of Nature Air in Costa Rica, who assisted with domestic air travel needs throughout the project. Thanks are also due Emily Arnold of Prize Capital LLC, for providing helpful contacts, assisting with field interviews, and sharing her deep knowledge and love of the Osa Peninsula. In the Osa Peninsula, our thanks go to the residents and businesses of Puerto Jimenez and Drake Bay who shared with us their invaluable knowledge and experience in countless interviews and conversations with our research teams. We are very grateful for the time they granted us, and for their patience and wisdom in sharing perspectives on their home. We are also deeply grateful to each of the hotels that participated in this study, for opening their doors and their records to us and for permitting us to request interviews with their staff and guests. The input of tourism entrepreneurs at all levels provided valuable insights and new research angles that improved the depth and context of our work. Special thanks go to the owners and managers of Danta Lodge, La Paloma Lodge, Iguana Lodge, Águila de Osa Lodge, and Jinetes de Osa Lodge, for helping with all aspects of the project, including discounted accommodations for the research team during time in Osa. We also wish to recognize the tireless efforts of our student research assistants, Stanford University students Caroline Adams, Molly Oshun, Joshua (Mac) Parish, and Anne Scalmanini, and Andrea Cordero Retana and Isabel Arias Sure of the Golfito branch of the University of Costa Rica. Along with CREST staff and study coordinators Laura Driscoll, William Durham, Martha Honey and Carter Hunt, these students spend hundreds of hours in and around Puerto Jimenez and Drake Bay, soliciting and conducting interviews, and assisting with the challenges of data entry and analysis. We wish to recognize their hard work and good spirits in the face of inclement weather, difficult interview conditions, and the many other challenges of fieldwork.

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  • Table of Contents   

    Acknowledgements ........................................................................................................... 1  Key Findings ...................................................................................................................... 4  Introduction ....................................................................................................................... 9  Overview of the Osa Peninsula ...................................................................................... 10  Methods ........................................................................................................................... 19  Results ............................................................................................................................. 22  Section 1: Local Residents ............................................................................................. 22 

    Comparative demographics of the sample .......................................................................................... 22  Place of Origin .......................................................................................................................................... 23  Income ....................................................................................................................................................... 24  Household Expenses .............................................................................................................................. 28  Environmental Behavior .......................................................................................................................... 31  Future Plans ............................................................................................................................................. 32  Attitudes and perceptions about life in the Osa ................................................................................... 34  Quality of life ............................................................................................................................................. 37  Support for tourism expansion ............................................................................................................... 39  Social impacts of tourism on community life ........................................................................................ 39 

    Section 2: Hotel Owners and Managers ........................................................................ 41  Social and economic practices .............................................................................................................. 41  Environmental practices .......................................................................................................................... 42 

    Section 3: Tourists .......................................................................................................... 45  Demographics of the sample ................................................................................................................. 45  Reasons for visiting the Osa .................................................................................................................. 45  Perspective on environmental and social responsibility of hotels .................................................... 47  Costs .......................................................................................................................................................... 48  Willingness to pay .................................................................................................................................... 52  Carbon tax ................................................................................................................................................. 53 

    Conclusions ..................................................................................................................... 54  Bibliography .................................................................................................................... 57  Appendices ...................................................................................................................... 59 

    Appendix 1. Brief Historical Sketch of the Osa Peninsula ................................................................. 59  Appendix 2. Qualitative comments from area residents on local issues ......................................... 63  Appendix 3. Comparisons of good and bad years for tourism and non-tourism workers ............. 65  Appendix 4. Comparison of tourism employees and non tourism workers during good year ...... 65  Appendix 5. Comparison of employees and non- tourism workers during bad year ..................... 66 

    About the Authors ........................................................................................................... 67  About the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST) ...................................................... 68   

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  • Map of the Osa Peninsula   

    Source: Moon Travel, http://www.moon.com/files/map‐images/ctr_08_Golfo‐Dulce‐and‐the‐Osa‐ Peninsula.jpg   

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  • Key Findings   

    The Osa Peninsula is the last remaining section of Costa Rica’s Pacific coast where ecotourism is the dominant economic activity. It therefore offers a unique possibility to ground test the economic, social and environmental impacts of ecotourism compared with other employment alternatives as well as to make possible some comparisons with the type of large-scale resort and vacation home tourism prevalent along the northern and central Pacific coast. The following are the key findings that emerged from this field study. Resident Surveys The field team conducted 128 interviews with local residents of the Osa in and around Drake Bay and Puerto Jimenez, including 70 interviews with ecolodge employees and 58 with residents not working in tourism. The ecolodge employees included housekeepers, kitchen staff, bar and wait staff, maintenance and grounds workers, and front desk employees; managers are covered in a separate category. The occupations of non-tourism workers