The concept of sustainability

The development of sustainable tourism must be seen as the balanced interaction between the use of our natural and cultural resources, the improvement of the quality of life among the local communities, and the economic success of the industry, which also contributes to national development. Sustainable tourism is not only a response to demand, but also an imperative condition to successfully compete now and in the future. (Definition of Sustainable Tourism, CST, 1997)
Sustainability, as a model of development, seeks to meet the current demands of society without compromising the rights of future generations to meet theirs. That means, the development of the country cannot be based on the unbalanced exploitation of resources (natural, cultural, social, etc.) to meet the demands of society (food, housing, health, employment) because these are the only resources we have, and that future generations have, to meet our and their own needs.

Certification for Sustainable Tourism

The CST’s fundamental purpose is to make sustainability a practical and necessary reality within the context of the country’s competitiveness in tourism, while looking to improve the way that natural and social resources are used, encourage the active participation of local communities and provide a new source of competitiveness within the business sector.

What is 100% responsible tourism?

  • It is the type of tourism that the country needs.
  • It is efficient operations that promote conservation and efficient use of resources.
  • It is tourism that is committed to the community and its needs, seeking dedication and solutions for the environment.
  • It is the certification of all tourism businesses that must be dedicated to carrying out conservation measures and handling risks to nature appropriately.

CST promotes efforts that benefit us and support the country.


The Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST) is a program that belongs to the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT), designed to categorize and differentiate tourism companies according to the degree to which its operations relate to the sustainable model. Companies receive a grade, not in stars, but in “levels” of sustainability. The CST established a classification system called the LEVELS OF SUSTAINABILITY. The levels are set on a scale of 0 to 5, and each one indicates the relative position of the company in terms of sustainability. LEVEL 1 means that the company has taken the first step in the sustainable process. The following levels correspond to increasingly advanced stages, which end in LEVEL 5, where the company is considered an example in terms of sustainability.

The classification depends on the percentage of positive actions that the company is developing in terms of sustainability. The assessment of these actions is done through the Standard, which assigns points according to the methodology of categorization.

Enforcement Guide

The guide refers to certain practices to facilitate the implementation of the sustainability measures, in accordance with the CST program, in Lodging Establishments and Tour Operators Agencies. The Guide is not intended to be a policy document, so that it is not the only way that exists to meet the CST requirements. It gives the employer the possibility to design its own strategy to achieve the objective.

General Evaluation

It is the project evaluation, programs or actions of the tourism company, relevant to sustainable tourism, and which results are not reflected in the questionnaire. It refers to active relevant projects or programs, working to support of sustainability. It highlights the objective of the project or program, and provides an accurate report on the results and relevant achievements to date. You can register more than one project, but they must be classified in the different areas that the CST evaluates.

The general assessment should be completed by the general manager of the company. The General Evaluation provides an opportunity to the person in charge of the Accommodation Establishment and Tour Operators Agency to refer or report on projects, programs or specific actions in the area of sustainability, which are going on right now but are not adequately reflected in the evaluation questionnaire.

The General Manager submits the project for consideration to the assessment team, which will then give it a rating according to their criteria. The projects submitted for consideration are evaluated and receive a score between 0 and 3. Whenever it appears that the project is not relevant or that it is already taken into account in the evaluation questionnaire, will receive a score 0.

The scores of 1, 2 and 3 are assigned according to the assessment that the evaluation team makes of the project. During the evaluation, the evaluation form is left in the company to be completed and sent to the group for later evaluation. Also the General Perception Assessment of positive and negative situations, which are affecting each of the areas.

The evaluation team refers to the most relevant positive or negative aspects that they observed during their visit to the company. This is done for each one of the areas and it is complemented only in those areas that the evaluation team thinks appropriate. The factors identified receive a score, which reflects on the final assessment.

General perception chart: Whenever appropriate; it refers to situations that have not been evaluated by the questionnaire, or which importance has not been evaluated in any dimensions. Not necessarily all spaces must be completed; only those which the evaluation team deems necessary.

Score chart: Each one of the items indicated will receive a score of 1 to 3 for the positive aspects, and -1 to -3 for the negative ones. This score should reflect a consensus between the assessment team.

TAM Travel Memberships