Certification for Sustainable Tourism

ACTUAR has the highest level (five sheets) Certification for Sustainable Tourism in Costa Rica (CST). It is a program that seeks to categorize and certify each tourism company according to the degree to which its operations comply to a model of sustainability. The five sheets have certified that a tourist operation environmentally responsible and that comply with quality and sustainability criteria in selecting our suppliers, products and services we offer.

For more information about CST, please visit the following page:

Our Sustainability Policy 

Our Mission

Promoting environmental sustainability, social, cultural and economic initiatives Rural Community Tourism of our partners, through the living natural environment by strengthening the autochthonous and transmitting an authentic experience to our customers.

Our Vision

Being a tour operator specializing in network and Rural Community Tourism Leader in Latin America, known for offering responsible travel to culture and nature of Costa Rica, helping to conserve the environment and preserve local cultures.

Our Values

  1. We are committed to our productive activity is consistent with the protection of natural resources and culture.
  2. We are an organization with a vocation to the creation of economic opportunities for rural communities.
  3. Promote solidarity among / the employees / as, partners and suppliers.
  4. We value honesty.
  5. We value the democratic participation of our partners.
  6. Gender equity value.
  7. We value our joint efforts to achieve a common goal.
  8. We value the cultural diversity of guests, hosts and employees / as.
  9. We value entrepreneurship organized groups.

Our Sustainability Policies
For Our Members and Suppliers

  • We promote sustainable practices in each rural tourism destination and in each of our business partners. We invest in training programs for our members and suppliers on a wide range of themes from native cuisine, natural history and cultural interpretation to waste management.
  • We incorporate environmental, labor and business standards in our travel agency and in each one of the rural tourism organizations that are co-owners of ACTUAR. We invest in workshops and educational materials to help our members and suppliers formalize their business practices and comply with all the laws required in order to function adequately.
  • We support and are part of efforts to improve the quality of services available to our members and suppliers, and thus the sustainable development of each of their communities. We have formed alliances with universities and with the National Training Institute (INA) to develop training programs for our members and suppliers.
  • We generate business opportunities and access to incentives for improving the offerings of rural tourism. We provide “solidarity credits” to our member-suppliers so that they can improve the quality of their services.
  • We encourage fairness in the marketplace by healthy business practices on ACTUAR’s part, and by training our members in marketing, business ethics, and self-sufficiency. To this end we organize the Rural Community Tourism Fair each November, so that members can generate their own contacts within the tourism industry
  • We seek the continuous improvement of rural tourism initiatives through training, technical assistance, interaction with other projects and better negotiation conditions for our members.

Our Buying Policies

  • At ACTUAR, we strive to develop tourism with positive impacts, generating as few negative impacts as possible. For this reason, we choose our providers and members with the following criteria in mind:
  • When buying products and services, we choose businesses that share our interest in and commitment to sustainable development and production.
  • We encourage our members and providers to use sustainable practices in their businesses.
  • Companies that provide air, land and water transport for our tours must comply with national emissions standards in order to minimize pollution.
  • We give priority to environmentally friendly products and services.
  • We do not buy or support the sale of products and crafts made with materials from endangered plants, trees or animals.
  • We do not encourage. nor do we offer, information on any kind of illicit activity that could have negative societal impacts.

Our clients

  • ACTUAR encourages visitors to collaborate in environmental protection in the areas they visit and to participate in our members’ conservation projects.
  • We let our clients know about the sustainability policies of our travel agency and of our member/providers, and about the conservation efforts in the communities they visit.
  • We make sure that our guides enrich our clients’ experience by accurate interpretation of the natural, cultural and archaeological attractions in their itineraries
  • We evaluate, analyze and implement the feedback we get from our clients in order to improve ACTUAR’s services.
  • We make an effort to ensure safety in each of our itineraries. We train our staff in first aid, and we make sure that emergency plans are in place in at the rural inns we visit. We make sure that all safety measures required by our liability policy are implemented by our member/providers.
  • We ensure that our visitors have the information they need about health precautions and security at the places they visit.
  • With written and oral information, we encourage our clients to respect local customs and norms.

Our administrative and operations staff

  • We make an effort to acquaint our staff with our sustainability policies in order to make sure they are put into practice
  • ACTUAR opposes the sexual exploitation of minors, sexual harrassment, child prostitution, and the comsumption of illegal substances, and we denounce behavior that promotes them.
  • Our employees and associates must always be examples of respect for different cultures, including local cultures.
  • We make sure that ACTUAR’s employees and associates comply with our environmental, social and operational manuals and policies.

Our product

  • ACTUAR offers its visitors a model of sustainable touristic development that encourages local residents to be entrepreneurs on their own land rather than being pressured sell it.
  • We try to make sure that at least 60% of the businesses in our itineraries are owned by the communities we visit. We promote the inclusion of local guides in order to enrich the experience of our travelers by meeting people native to the areas they are visiting. Our local guides tell their stories as part of local history, making for free flowing cultural interchange.
  • We want our visitors to know the cultural diversity of our country, experiencing indigenous, Afro-Caribbean and campesino cultures.
  • We strive to provide an enriching and authentic experience by offering travelers the opportunity to participate in farming activities, conservation programs, and other aspects of rural life, or cultural events like the Fiesta de los Diablitos in Boruca or the Fiesta del Toro y la Mula in Térraba.
  • We promote decentralized tourism, encouraging direct contact with nature in less-visited areas in order to reduce the impact on over-exploited parks, reserves and tourist destinations.
  • We educate our travelers about the conservation efforts of our members and providers.
  • We want our tourism products to be accesible to Costa Ricans, so we give preferential pricing to residents of Costa Rica, in both the high and low seasons.
  • We strive to provide accurate information in our promotional materials about the services and attractions offered in our itineraries.
  • We follow up on the quality of services provided by our associates and providers, and we incentivate best service practices with the annual award called “Gallina de Oro” as a recognition to the associates that have introduced best practices in their business.

Environmental protection

  • ACTUAR opposes the extraction of wild plants and the illegal capture of wild animals by tourism providers or tourists. We avoid such activities.
  • ACTUAR does not sell endangered flora or fauna, and reminds visitors not to feed wild animals.
  • We train our members and staff to adequately manage waste produced in our office and on our tours.
  • ACTUAR’s tours operate with groups no larger than 30 people.
  • We train our employees, members and providers in environmental protection, waste management and sustainable practices
  • We promote organic farming and reforestation in the areas protected by our members.
  • By strengthening rural community tourism, ACTUAR supports its members in preserving over 25.000 acres of forest, thus creating biological corridors throughout the country.

Water and energy conservation

  • ACTUAR implements mechanisms to reduce the use of water on its tours and in its office, using availble technology
  • By stimulating rural community tourism, we encourage our members to participate in programs that buy land in order to protect watershed and to promote reforestation
  • We encourage our members, employees, guides and clients to conserve energy
  • We promote the use of alternative energy sources in the areas we visit. In the office, we monitor energy consumption in order to reduce it.

Promoting local community development

  • Sustainable local development is our reason for being. We are convinced that well-managed rural community tourism is an ideal tool for both community development AND conservation of natural resources.
  • We encourage the creation of projects by local communities that comply with our sustainability criteria and provide excellent service.
  • We give priority to businesses dedicated to community development while respecting local cultural identity.
  • When choosing food services, souvenirs, tours and lodging, we give priority to businesses owned and managed by local residents
  • ACTUAR promotes the use of products produced in the communities we visit
  • ACTUAR’s staff, board of directors and associates encourages, respects and practices the values and beliefs that make Costa Rica Costa Rican!