CST Tourism Sustainability

Sustainable tourism development must be seen as the balanced intention to use appropriately our natural and cultural resources, to improve the quality of life of local communities and to obtain economic success in the activity, which will also contribute to the national development. Tourism sustainability is not only the answer to the demand, but also an essential condition to successfully compete now, and in the future. (Definition of Tourism Sustainability, CST 1997)

Sustainability, as a model for development, suggests the need to satisfy society's current requirements, without compromising the right of future generations to satisfy theirs. This means that the development of the country cannot be based on the excessive exploitation of the resources (natural, cultural, social, etc.) to cover the lacks of the population (food, housing, health, employment...) because these resources are the only ones future generations of this country have to satisfy their own needs.

Certification for Sustainable Tourism

The main purpose of the CST is to turn the concept of sustainability into something real, practical, and necessary in the context of tourism competitiveness in the country, trying to improve the way in which natural and social resources are used, promote an active participation of local communities, and provide a new support for the competitiveness of the entrepreneurial sector.

¿What is 100% responsible tourism?

The kind of tourism the country needs to be an example in Central America and continue being one for many years.

Tourism with effective operations that promote savings and efficient use of natural resources in the country.

Tourism that commits to the community and its needs, searching for an environmental solution.

The certification every tourism company should have to perform actions to preserve nature.

CST promotes actions that benefit us and help the country.

¡Join Us!


East side of the Juan Pablo II bridge, La Uruca, San Jose.
Tel.: (506) 2299 5876. Fax: (506) 2220-35-59

P.O. Box: 777-1000 San José, Costa Rica


The CST represents a new source of competitiveness, a way of differentiating the tourism industry from our competitors, in which the development of a tourism product is encouraged, with a connotation of sustainability, thus opening up new possibilities for marketing and international promotion

In addition to the support that the Costa Rican Tourism Institute offers at the promotional level, the company certified with the CST, can use the brand as a differentiating factor of its offer. This in addition to the efficiency in the operation that is achieved under this scheme, by promoting savings and efficient use in the management of resources, has a positive impact not only on the quality of the product, but also on the cost-benefit ratio .

Additional Information


What benefits are obtained with the CST?

By implementing the practices that are recommended the establishment increases the efficiency in its operation. For example, the use of technologies for energy saving aims to promote product quality in terms of sustainability and, at the same time, seeks a significant reduction in billing for this service.


The CST directly mitigates the inconsequential practice of some companies that operate as "greenwashers" (companies that abuse the "eco" or "sustainable" concept), providing reliable information on companies that really strive to offer a sustainable tourism product and which do not.

This strengthens the country's image as a truly naturalistic destination, greatly increasing the competitiveness of the national tourism product.


The efficiency in the operation is achieved, by promoting the efficient use in the management of both water, energy and the same inputs that are used, which leads to significant savings, reduction of sources of pollution that can generate new costs and the reduction of waste, by establishing a purchasing policy that defines both the size of the packaging and the material thereof.

This decrease in some of the expenses, can improve the competitiveness of the company, in addition, being consistent with the product offered, the customer will be satisfied.

Having a policy on cost reduction, under this scheme, causes employees or internal customers to participate in the processes actively, having to generate favorable results to achieve the operational efficiency of their area. Depending on the appropriation made by each individual, the culture of savings and good practices can transcend the private sphere, which allows generating chains.

  • The experience of" transforming "Parque del Lago into a sustainable hotel was incredible. All expectations as promoters of the Program were exceeded both administratively and operatively ... Best of all, the CST has served not only to improve our practices as hotel operators, but at the same time it has been a tool to motivate our employees and to maintain a high level of education and updating. "

    Mrs. Andrea Bonilla, Hotel Parque del Lago.

  • "The Tourism Certification Program of the Costa Rican Tourism Institute is an excellent tool to promote the sustainable development of the country."

    Alvaro Ugalde, Founder of the National Parks System of Costa Rica.

A hallmark of tourism sustainability

When you see the CST Mark you will know that ...

The company avoids gas emissions, and damage caused to the environment by pollution or other chemicals.

The company carries out actions of management and conservation of nature. Always protecting her.

The company handles the waste it produces so that it does not create a negative impact on the environment.

The company consumes natural, biodegradable products and recycles all those that can be reused.

The company has a program for saving water and electricity in all the premises it has.

The company is inviting you to know the natural wealth of our country and urges you to take care of it and protect it.

The company complies with standards, specifically those referring to the environment, archaeological heritage and safety.

The company employs and trains the residents of the community where it operates. Connoisseurs of the area and nature.

The company promotes the traditions and customs of the country, the consumption of typical food and national crafts.

Additional Information



Certification for Tourism Sustainability

Sustainable tourism development is the balanced interaction between the appropriate use of our natural and cultural resources, the improvement of the quality of life of local communities and the economic success of the activity, which also contributes to national development. This is possible in Costa Rica thanks to the "CST" TOURIST SUSTAINABILITY CERTIFICATE.

The CST brand was developed by the Costa Rican Tourism Institute, in order to turn the concept of tourism sustainability into something real, and as the only way to compete in this century. And it is that history has taught us that a quality destination is forged not only by improving the condition of the most visible factors of the industry, such as hospitality, gastronomy and promotion, but also safety, attractions, the environment, local communities and training, among others. Thus the integral strengthening will allow a healthy and balanced tourism in the economic, social and environmental, opening new possibilities to achieve a competitive advantage that will allow positioning in the direct agents: tourists.

What is the CST

The Certificate of Tourism Sustainability (CST) is a program of the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT), designed to categorize and differentiate organizations according to the degree to which their operation approaches a Sustainability model

The degree of compliance with the criteria of the Standard is carried out through an online audit of the requesting organization

The areas that make up the CST Standard are

  1. BUSINESS MANAGEMENT: Evaluates the integral process of the sustainable management of the organization
  2. SOCIAL, ECONOMIC AND CULTURAL IMPACT: Values the implementation, execution and monitoring of social, economic and cultural support and promotion programs
  3. ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT: Evaluates the effect produced by the organization's operation on the environment and the reduction, mitigation and adaptation measures applied
  4. SPECIFIC INDICATORS: Values the organization's own actions as the case may be, considering the following categories: Lodging, Tour Operation, Tourist Transport, Theme Parks, Car Rental, Gastronomy, Hot Springs and Spa, Protected Areas and Institutions and Organizations

Each scope consists of the following structure:

CENTRAL AXIS: It is the central structure of the Standard, evaluates general aspects of sustainable development in the organization

MANDATORY:: Mandatory questions that must be 100% evidenced to opt for the Certificate of Tourism Sustainability

IMPROVEMENT AND CONTINUITY: Questions that evaluate the processes and progress of the sustainable management of the organization

EXTERNAL IMPACT:Questions that assess the impact that the organization generates in its environment, community and immediate destination and the places where it carries out its activities.

CST levels

The CST Standard grants two different Levels according to the percentage of compliance of the criteria and indicators of the applicant

Basic Level: Requires compliance by the applicant with 100% of the questions defined in the Standard as “Mandatory” in each Scope

Elite Level: Requires compliance by the applicant of the Basic Level that is, 100% of the questions defined in the Standard as “Mandatory” plus 30% of the questions defined in the Standard as “Improvement and Continuity” and 70 % of the questions defined in the Standard as "External Impact" in each of the Areas.

CST a brand with support and credibility

The Technical Verification Commission of the CST, made up of the academic sector, the private company, the public sector and two international organizations, is the body responsible for granting the CST distinction and for ensuring that companies certified with the logo comply with the established, so that both the tourist and the wholesale agents have the certainty that effectively the companies certified with the CST adhere to a business management that considers aspects related to social responsibility, corporate corporate responsibility or even more to sustainability

This Technical Verification Commission is made up of the Costa Rican Institute of Tourism, Ministry of Environment and Energy, Ministry of Culture, National Institute of Biodiversity, University of Costa Rica, Central American Institute of Business Administration, National Chamber of Tourism, Earth Council and The World Conservation Union of Nature.

Acknowledgments received by the CST

The CST has been recognized by the World Tourism Organization as "one of the programs that is managing to modify the way of tourism", 2000.

In the Puebla Panama Plan, 2000, CST was considered as a line of action, to go beyond the certification of environmental protection or ecological tourism.

"CST Tourism 100% responsible now and in the future."

"We are convinced that working together, far from the fears of competition, unites and makes any effort and more when we talk about actions to consolidate the tourism product, under true criteria of what we must understand for sustainability. This effort will exalt Costa Rica, because every day we will be stronger and stronger in defining ourselves as a sustainable tourism destination. "

Ana Báez, Representative Tour Operator Agencies.

"... We are pleased to have obtained another" ecological sheet "be LEVEL 2, which rewards our constant efforts to put into practice the guidelines and recommendations that have been made to us in the past, in order to be more friendly with the social and ecological environment in which we operate as a tourism company ... "

Rolando Soto J., Legal Representative Hotel Casa Camarona.

"Tourism sustainability is not only the response to demand but an indispensable condition for competing successfully now and in the future."

Última Modificación: 24/05/2024.
Instituto Costarricense de Turismo