Case Study

Destination development: costa rica

Project Goals

 

Support local communities to develop sustainable tourism initiatives and strengthen global connections.

Leverage the natural assets of the region, preserving water sheds (rivers) and wildlife of the Biological Corridor as important reserve and passage ways for local and migrating birds. 

Outcomes

Tripled the number of home stays in the region by developing  a directory of home stays in the region

Developed a directory of local micro-size businesses and attractions and advised on product development

Organized village workshop to develop a collective vision and a more unified economic entity

Secured $35k+ for connection initiative from the Canadian Government and Academic institution to connect SMEs to the  relative supply chain

Initiated connections between local communities, agriculture cooperative, municipalities and national universities

Advised on destination image, marketing and promotion 

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Developed strategies and implemented specific activities leading to conflict resolution between competitors and a stronger, collaborative community

The Challenges

Costa Rica, like most countries of Latin America, has vital natural resources and is attractive to corporate investments. One unique feature of Costa Rica is its well-developed ecotourism sector, that includes widely spread community-based tourism. However many services lack the connection with the market, and have no comparative value proposition to compete with specific major destinations in the country.  Still each region has unique features and …

 

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value proposition to offer to specific niche markets. The value proposition and the niche markets needed to be identified and matched with demand; in a way to create channels and bring-in enough tourism traffic for local businesses to grow sustainably.

The threats and the challenges can be stated as:

-Hydro-electric dams and pesticide-dependent agriculture. offered overwhelming economic development projects; if approved these projects would endanger local livelihood and exhaust and damage natural resources irreversibly.

-Local political conflicts among community groups arise

-Lack of connections between producers and markets.

-Local tourism offering is minimal and based on scattered individual initiatives.

Started as an academic research, and developed into an economic development project that attracted funds from SSHRC the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

The project aimed to:

  • Scale up the community’s tourism-related micro and small businesses through product, market and linkages development.
  • Initiate a destination development collective venture.
  • Create a platform for communities to come together and overcome local politics.

The Solution

Based on research findings, a Connection Grant from SSHRC (the Social Siences and Humanities Research Council of Canada) led to a collaborative intervention between academic institutions and stakeholders. More responsible travelers are visiting and spending locally, as hotels and tour operators provide tours and suggest itineraries and connections for domestic business travelers to visit the area.  The grant supported a three days connection forum that was a organized to discuss strategic goals, along with a series of village workshop to recruit and engage the communities.

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In result of the connection initiative, the local community and stakeholders initiated a vision for their area as a sustainable destination; and they agreed on a set of recommendations to pursue the development of their region as a  destination. Connections with supply chain were established and partnerships between private and public sectors were initiated.

Promotional materials were published, listing the offers of rural entrepreneurs. The stakeholders visited the potential sites and experienced first hand how they can develop tours or recommend visits. The active women’s associations who were competing have worked together with one goal. Entrepreneurs generated further income, expanded their offers, and are better connected and working as a network. 

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