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Various Tourism Options in Costa Rica

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Various Tourism Options in Costa Rica
There are a multitude of reasons for a tourist to travel to Costa Rica; reasons that vary from a simple vacation, to adventure tourism, ‘sex tourism’, eco-tourism, or medical tourism. Costa Rica is a relatively new tourist selection. “In the 1960’s Costa Rica warily became aware that tourism could be an important source of income.” (Tourism in Costa Rica, 2012) Since that realization, Costa Rica has become a well-traveled area. They also remain a peaceful country and prove to be so by remaining military-free since 1948. “…That tiny nation of 2.5 million which has demonstrated for nearly forty years that a country can live in peace without an army…” (Walton, 1985)
Escape, getaway, relaxation, and freedom are all words that describe vacation. Costa Rica provides all of these wants. describes ‘vacation’ as, “a period of work, study, or other activity used for rest, recreation, or travel; recess or holiday.” (vacation. (n.d.)) One can find a beach to relax on, a beautiful, peaceful country to escape to, and the perfect place to be free and ‘get-away’ from all of the troubles that hassle them at home, in any area of Costa Rica. Costa Rica is a spectacular and unique spot to visit due to the volcanoes that are spread out through the country. Other activities that one can partake in include a new culture, off-roading, walking through the jungle, sightseeing, navigating through rainforest, zip lining, parasailing, and hot air ballooning. Costa Rica appears to have all parts of happenings covered, as well as luxury hotels and restaurants to rejuvenate and replenish after those adventures.
Adventure Tourism “Costa Rica has long catered to eco-tourist; however a newer phenomenon is adventure tourism which includes activities such as whitewater rafting, mountain climbing, rope courses, trekking and spelunking, and attracts mainly young tourists.” (Romero-Daza, 2008, p. 172) Many reasons to vacation in Costa Rica fall under the category of ‘adventure tourism’, otherwise known as ‘adventure travel’. This is defined as, “vacation or trip to a natural environment or remote location with the specific purpose of active physical participation and exploration of a new experience.” (adventure travel. (n.d.) , 2012) These experiences involve wild life tours, mountain biking, kayaking, and scuba diving, all of which are offered in Costa Rica. Surfing has also become popular, due to the facts that Costa Rica is located between two oceans. “…Adventure tourism facilitates relationships between local guides and tourist that often include a sexual element.” (Romero-Daza, 2008, p. 172) This leads the country to have something referred to as ‘sex tourism’, discussed in the next section.
Sex Tourism “Sex tourism may have different manifestations depending on the gender and age of the people involved, power relations, goods provided as payment, length of involvement and intentions/motivations of the partners.” (Romero-Daza, 2008, p. 170) Sex tourism is a famous industry in Costa Rica. “The increase in numbers and variety of working women here has reaffirmed Costa Rica’s position as an international hub for prostitution, which is legal and regulated by the government since 1894.” (Admin, 2009) Prostitution in a country is not surprising and certainly not a new phenomenon. The growing trend of women traveling to foreign places with the intent of engaging in sexual relations with a man is a newer occurrence. “The term ‘sex tourism’ has been reserved for relations between male tourist and local women, while similar behaviors in which the tourist is a woman have been leveled ‘romance tourism’.” (Romero-Daza, 2008, p. 170)
Eco Tourism Central America is full of places to participate in eco tourism and Costa Rica should not be thought of differently. The definition of ‘eco tourism’ is as follows, “Tourism to a place having unspoiled natural resources, with minimal impact on the environment being primary concern.” (ecotourism. (n.d.) ) Costa Rica is ripe with events that fit this explanation. There are thirty-two national parks to roam along with one hundred and fifty wild life reserves and refuges to explore. Eco tourism can be used to protect anything from marine life to volcanoes. Other activities in this category include snorkeling, bird watching, and hiking.
Medical Tourism Medical tourism is less known in the traveling world, though prevalent in the tourism that occurs through Costa Rica.
Medical tourism is marketed and portrayed by journalists as a combination of leisure and travel and invasive biomedical procedures, in which poorer countries offer visitors from wealthier countries an appealing package of state-of-the-art clinical services, hospitable locals, and exotic sightseeing. (Ackerman, 2010, p. 404)
Women and men travel to places similar to Costa Rica for a less expensive procedure than they could find in the United States, or that are not yet available. “Procedures range from teeth whitening to ‘body lifts’ at prices 30 to 70 percent lower than in he United States.” (Ackerman, 2010, p. 404)
With all of the up and coming tourism as well as current tourism in Costa Rica it is surprising to discover that the road systems are in disrepair.
The National Road Network (NRN) watched and maintained by the national government is 4,700 miles in length (2,800 miles are paved roads, with the rst being gravel and/or dirt roads). One-third of the paved roads, 940 miles, are narrow mountain roads, presenting big slopes, poor geometrical design and a lot of small bridges and other water passes. (Salazar, 2011, p. 39)
Another quote from National Significance, “…48% of roads need improvement in the functional capacity.” (Salazar, 2011, p. 39) Almost half of the nations roads are in disarray. This can be halting to the expansion of tourism. Another aspect of Costa Rican infrastructure that needs to be brought up-to-date are the nations bridges. “Many of these bridges have needed urgent work for over a decade, according to a report from the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA).” (Business to Business, 2011) Costa Rica has two major ports known as Caldera for the Pacific Ocean, and Moin, for the Caribbean Sea side of the country. Neither of these ports is current or prepared to handle the capacity of imports and exports. The repair of these three types of infrastructure would help ease the transition with the ever-growing tourism.
Costa Rica has the potential of flourishing into a largely traveled tourist interest. If tourism continues to grow at the pace it has been the country will be as well known as the rest of the Central American vacation areas. Costa Rica is known as the most peaceful of all Central American countries. This gives them an edge.
Community agents played a large role in enabling La Fortunans to keep their land. Residents met and discussed the risk associated with selling land and its consequences for the ownership and management of tourism resources. Residents also encouraged other to obtain credit to invest in tourism. (Matarrita-Cascante, 2010, p. 745) This quote alone, from the Journal of Sustainable Tourism Development, speaks volumes in the development of Costa Rican tourism.
Ackerman, S. (2010). Plastic Paradise: Transforming Bodies and Selves in Costa Rica's
Cosmetic Surgery Tourism Industry. . Medical Anthropology , 29 (4), 403-423.
Admin. (2009, October 16). Tico Times Directory Blog. Retrieved from Just another Costa Rica blog: adventure travel. (n.d.) . (2012). Retrieved from's 21st Century Lexicon: travel
Business to Business. (2011, November 2). Retrieved from Central America Date: ecotourism. (n.d.) . (n.d.). Retrieved 2012, from Unabridged: Matarrita-Cascante, D. B. (2010). Community agency and sustainable tourism development: the case of La Fortuna, Costa Rica. . Journal of Sustainable Tourism Development , 18 (6), 735-756.
Romero-Daza, N. &. (2008). Female Tourists, Casual Sex, and HIV Risk in Costa Rica.
(doi:10.1007/s11133-008-9096-y, Ed.) Qualitative Sociology , 31 (2), 169-187.
Salazar, L. M. (2011). National Significance. Roads & Bridges , 49 (9), 39-43.
Tourism in Costa Rica. (2012). Retrieved from History and Development: vacation. (n.d.). (n.d.). Retrieved 2012, from Unabridged: Walton, R. (1985). How the U. S. Is Changing Costa Rica. Nation , 24 (10), 297-303.

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