Ecotourism Contributes ¢809 Billion a Year To The Economy

Nature tourism, or ecotourism, generates about ¢809 billion in annual revenue to the economy, according to research from the National University (UNA).

Ecotourism corresponds to activities related to national parks and biological reserves, and accounts for more than 3% of Gross Domestic Product. The contribution of this activity has grown by 48% between 2009 and 2016, the research revealed. Almost 52% of tourists entering the country visit a national park or a biological reserve, these being one of the main attractions of Costa Rica.

Between 2015 and 2016, visits to the parks of both residents and foreigners grew by 13%, according to data from the National System of Conservation Areas. This generated ¢9.1 billion in park ticket sales. Three years ago, more than 2.1 million people visited the national parks.

Among the most frequented by foreigners are Manuel Antonio, Poás Volcano and Tortuguero, while the Irazú is among the favorites of domestic tourists.

“It is extremely gratifying to see these figures, and we feel right regarding the proposal to turn this country’s production model towards one of the circular economies and blue economy, which are the trends worldwide,” said Grettel Vega, director of the National Area System Conservation.

In total, national parks contribute ¢1 trillion to the national economy, without discounting what it costs to maintain these areas annually or the schedule of their employees.

After ecotourism, the second activity that generates the most revenue from the national parks is the water resource maintenance service, with 144 billion, as well as the generation of direct and indirect employment, since it moves almost 7 billion.

To date, the country has 29 national parks, but could soon be more on the proposal of the current administration.

At least five protected areas and wildlife refuges will soon be a national park, said Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, Minister of Environment and Energy.

Adventure tourism and the Essential country brand, related to the protection and enjoyment of nature, would help the Government achieve the target of up to 4 million visitors a year by 2022, estimates the Costa Rican Institute of Tourism.

Estimated income from tourism and ecotourism has grown considerably between 2009 and 2016 (millions of dollars from the Costa Rican Institute for Tourism and UNA)

National Park Tourism 9521,417

Aggregate tourism 2,3633,657


The hotel area is the predominant when it comes to analyzing the spending of tourists who visited the country in 2016 (figures in percentages of the Costa Rican Institute of Tourism and the UNA).