“Rural community tourism consists of planned touristic experiences which are integrated sustainably with the rural environment and developed by local citizen organizations for the benefit of the community.’ – Costa Rican Institute of Tourism, 2005.
As tourism develops in Costa Rica, both rural communities and tourists are choosing to engage in an alternative type of tourism: rural community tourism.
Rural community tourism is about fitting in with life as it happens where you’re staying.
It’s about maintaining communities, and allowing them to develop at their own pace, in their own direction, on their own terms.
Some of the main charachtacterists of rural tourism are that it:
Integrates natural beauty and the daily life of rural communities
• Promotes productive sustainable practices within its tourism offerings
• Adapts itself to the dynamics of rural life and preserves the idiosyncrasies and the welcoming, relaxed, rustic atmosphere that characterize the rural areas of the country
• Is maintained by local initiative and participation, and strengthens local organizations, which are made up of various families or of the community as a whole
• Integrates the local populace in this economic activity, distributes the benefits even-handedly, and supplements farming income
• Promotes land ownership by the local population.
In 2003 an alliance of organizations for the enhancement of rural community tourism was created in Costa Rica. This alliance continues today with COOPRENA (Consortium of Rural Tourism Co-operatives) and ACTUAR (Costa Rican Community-based Rural Tourism Association) and these bodies are pioneering rural tourism in Costa Rica.
The United Nations Program for Development (UNPD) has provided financial and technical assistance and has worked with the Costa Rican Institute of Tourism (ICT) to define and characterize community rural tourism as a national tourist product and has been involved in the creation of CantuRural, a national Chamber of rural tourism of which Casitas Tenorio is a founding member.
In July 2009, the Costa Rican parliament passed the Rural Community Tourism Law for Social Development and Environmental Conservation Bill, which endeavors to strengthen rural community tourism in Costa Rica by providing funding and support to the industry with important benefits for small and medium sized businesses in the rural tourism sector.
At Casitas Tenorio we strive to provide you the perfect opportunity to become involved in rural community tourism, by staying on a local farm, engaging in tours and activities in the local area, and of exploring the area with a local guide. We have local and regional networks in the rural tourism community and can assist with the planning of your vacation.
Casitas Tenorio is a founding member of CantuRural a national Chamber of rural tourism. Donald Varela Soto has more than ten years experience in the rural tourism field, participating in training courses and conferences throughout Central and South America. He has worked with COOPRENA for over ten years and has been a board member for many years.
With rural community tourism, you don’t have to be the only one who benefits from your trip –the whole community can!
Engaging in rural community tourism means you’ll have a unique, and uniquely Costa Rican, experience. And it means it’s more likely that you can keep coming back, again and again, to a place you’ll come to love.
By engaging in rural community tourism you have the opportunity to support development in rural areas by supplementing and diversifying incomes for farming families, help preserve local cultures and traditions and promote conservation of natural resources (ACTUAR, 2009).
Rural community tourism respects host communities, their guests, and the planet that we all share by integrating and promoting sustainable practices. ‘Nature lovers can visit wild areas accompanied by a local guide who explains the traditional uses of the plants and local forest lore, transmitting experience rather than mere information’ (ACTUAR, 2009). Rural community-based tourism also supports responsible travel principles.