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Monteverde plans to grow with focus on sustainable tourism

The mountain community of Monteverde hopes to become a global symbol of sustainable tourism.

With support from the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) and the Culture Ministry (MCJ), the already popular ecotourism region unveiled this month a plan for its continued growth.

The strategy coincides with a development decades in the making: The 17-kilometer portion of Route 606 between Guacimal and Santa Elena/Cerro Plano/Monteverde is finally being paved.

As Guillermo Vargas, President of the Monteverde Chamber of Tourism, explained, a visitor’s car will no longer be barrier for accessing Monteverde and its famous cloud forests.

Here are the developments being planned in Monteverde, according to tourism authorities:

  • Hiking: Expand, improve and develop the network of trails in the community of San Luis. These are part of the Pacific Slope Trail network. 
  • Training: Provide tourism guides and environmental educators the opportunity to receive high-level training that allows them to instruct and inspire visitors.
  • Parking: Create a parking area in Santa Elena to alleviate road congestion. 
  • Regulating: Perform technical and legal studies to identify standards to partially regulate some areas of growth. 
  • Conserving: Establish a comprehensive sanitation system focused on the recovery of resources such as water, energy and nutrients for local use.

“Thirty-two years ago, we started a planning process that has remained ongoing,” Vargas said. “Tourism is complemented by cultural wealth, infrastructure, nature conservation and many integral factors.” 

Monteverde, within Puntarenas province, is located on the western slope of the Tilarán mountain range. It’s famous for its diversity of flora and fauna, much of it found within cloud forest.

The modern community was established in the 1950s by Quakers from Alabama who emigrated from the United States in opposition to the country’s involvement in World War II. After purchasing a large swath of land on their “Green Mountain,” the Friends founded the Monteverde Cheese Factory and later the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.

Between 2016-18, ecotourism was a primary reason for travel for the majority of international visitors to Costa Rica, according to ICT. Tens of thousands of people visit Monteverde each year.

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