Manuel Antonio National Park

Conceptual Framework for the Sustainable Tourism Plan for the Manuel Antonio National Park (PNMA) and it's Area of Influence.


Manuel Antonio National Park

Background. Globally recognized for its conservation efforts, Costa Rica has fostered nature-based tourism. Twenty-five percent of the national territory is under some type of protected category. Home to a broad diversity of flora and fauna, the country has bet on conservation as the cornerstone of its development. As a major world-class destination, tourism is the country ´s main source of revenue. Since the 1990s, Costa Rica has been consolidating its National Conservation Area System (SINAC) as the center of its environmental policy, seeking to integrate conservation and economic development. The country is divided in eleven so-called "conservation areas" that seek the decentralization and democratization of conservation. These areas manage 155 protected wildlife areas under diverse management schemes. Of these, thirty-two are open to tourism, and seven remain untapped.

SINAC is currently challenged with enhancing the infrastructure and services for national and international visitors to these protected wildlife areas, to turn them into quality destinations while ensuring their conservation and a better quality of life for neighboring communities. On the other hand,the Costa Rican Tourism Institute(ICT) regulates tourism overall and fosters its sustainable development.For the last ten years,the ICT has promoted nature tourism as Costa Rica's number one attraction. In its "General Plan for Sustainable Tourism Development 2002-2012," the ICT sets out a framework for strategic and physical space planning focused on the future development of sustainable tourism in the country. Its "Land Use and Tourism Development Plan: Central Pacific Tourism Unit" (ICT, 2005) proposes the following vision:

"The tourism industry in the Central Pacific Unit is based on natural, maritime and terrestrial attractions, where the focus in sun and beach, and supplemented by adventure, sporting and rural tourism as well as ecotourism. Development will rely on competitive products that take advantage of biodiversity, organic agriculture and forestry and cattle grazing systems, peasant traditions, landscape, scheduled events, and evening cultural and artistic activities. Diverse products and high quality standards, fundamental for a competitive industry, will lead to a good travel experience in a sustainable development framework, in compliance with environmental protection regulations and fully respectful of the dignity and well-being under equal conditions of men, women, children, senior citizens, persons with disabilities or with fewer economic resources.

Tourism is the engine of the local economy and helps distribute economic benefits, strengthen the business sector, generate revenue for the local communities and provide adequate infrastructure, services and living conditions for residents and visitors."

SINAC Sustainable Development Program

Future tourism development in Costa Rica depends on its social, economic and environmental sustainability, underpinned by enhanced management capacities –particularly in protected areas- and on a business climate that invites natural resource conservation as its prime ingredient, along with a better well-being of local communities. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) supported the development of a "Draft National Strategy for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Wildlife Areas and their Areas of Influence." The IDB also supported the design of a planning methodology to help SINAC define the investment, technical assistance and sustainable tourism management program required for each individual protected area. The methodology, implemented in three pre-selected sites, will help SINAC fine-tune the tool. These sites were the national parks of Manuel Antonio, Corcovado, and Braulio Carrillo.


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