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11865 - "La Loca de Gandoca" revisited: sustainable tourism in the Southern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, the case of Puerto Viejo.

Costa Rica has created a strong reputation in the international scene and has become a model country in implementing and practicing sustainable development and promoting sustainable tourism. In the past decade, the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (ICT) launched a campaign to promote the development of sustainable tourism; the tourist board’s slogan “no artificial ingredients” has become a successful brand mark for the country.

Puerto Viejo located in the cantón of Talamanca in the Province of Limón next to the Panamá border, holds one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world. This paper, based on field study in Puerto Viejo, explores what has been the development, and impact of tourism in the region, and the environmental conflicts generated by tourism development. The tourist model developed in the Caribbean (in comparison with the mass tourism developed in the Pacific region), and the role and participation of the different actors involved in the tourist industry, are also some of the issues analyzed on this paper.

One of the most important environmental conflicts in the area caused by the construction of two hotels built in the wildlife refuge of Gandoca-Manzanillo, was denounced by Ana Cristina Rossi in her novel “La Loca de Gandoca” in 1992; the novel generated lots of controversy and national and international attention to the case. After 18 years of judicial fight, in July 2011, it was ordered the destruction of the hotels.

Keywords: Costa Rica, , sustainable tourism, environmental conflict

Author: Quesada, Florencia (University of Helsinki, Finland / Finnland)

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