Despite the recent rise in nationalist politics around the world, economic borders are fast disappearing. It is increasingly important for each nation to define itself on the world stage so that it is able to maintain a level of autonomy over the direction of its national interests while cooperating with the world market. Costa Rica is doing just that, through government action on environmentalism, education, and tourism, which all bring in the much coveted foreign investment dollars.
In a world where environmentalism is continuously coming to a head against capitalism, Costa Rica is a beacon of light for the future of green economics. Whereas other industrialized nations are finding their environmental scientists confronted by corporate scientists trying to maintain the conventional economic models of expansion and increases in production, Costa Rica has created an economic model that works alongside environmental protection – the foundation for creating a better tomorrow today.
ICE (the national energy agency) has been growing extensive tree nurseries around CR, expected to produce 700,000 seedlings in 2017 alone for reforestation programs, either through their own initiatives, or through donations to private companies and NGOs that are undertaking their own reforestation programs. Trees minimize the impact of rainfall by absorbing water, and they reduce erosion by protecting surface soil – an increasingly endangered resource around the world.
There are three recently developed electric charging stations in Costa Rica – two private and one public. The newest station is a public one, in partnership between CNFL electric company and BMW in La Uruca, and they will offer free public access for all electric vehicles for two years. This plan was fomented to offset the outmoded ground transportation system, one of the main stumbling blocks to Costa Rica reaching carbon neutrality by 2021, as the government hopes.
One of the most literate populations in the world, Costa Rica is counted as number one in Latin America and 8th in the world for US post-secondary students, according to the Institute of International Education. The amount of students preferring Costa Rica has grown by 156% since 2001.
A recent strategy to promote the country as a destination for education is one of the reasons for this growth in international students in Costa Rica. Procomer, the agency responsible for promoting Costa Rica’s exports, will be participating this year in two international education fairs: the China Eduexpo in Shanghai and the NAFSA in the United States, this last one considered one of the most important fairs internationally. The positioning of Costa Rica as a tourism-rich destination also contributes to these positive numbers.
Another external factor that play a role in these numbers is the high costs of private college education in the USA. Data from Bloomberg shows that studying in some private universities in the USA could mean close to $50,000 a year just in enrollment fees. In Costa Rica, these fees are on average 1/50th the cost at the top national university for foreign students
This past month, Costa Rica has scored first for personal happiness on the InterNations 2016 Quality of Life Index, scoring 5th overall for expat quality of life. With 2.9 million visitors to Costa Rica in 2016, this means a 10% increase in tourism over 2015. Although American travelers are still the dominant group, UK visitors have increased by 50% over last year, and Chinese up by 34%.
2016 has seen an incredible growth in flight frequencies and the creation of new direct routes to the country, strengthening its connections with the world and increasing annual tourism revenue to $3 billion this year. Costa Rica is a nation still opening up to tourism, according to iNews. Thanks to a new assortment of non-stop flights from Europe, the country is attracting more than just backpackers from Europe.
Package hotels in the Guanacaste province still attract large, American crowds, but the eco-lodges and raw, natural environment further down the southern coast are aimed at more of a European crowd, who tend to enjoy a more adventurous experience.
Hotels in Costa Rica advertise themselves with leaves instead of stars in representation of their eco-efforts, and reviews of accommodations in the pacific coastal regions are top of their class in comparison to similar properties around the world.
All in all, Costa Rica’s reputation is growing quickly as a life-choice destination, and all participants involved – be they locals, residents, business owners, or visitors – are benefiting. Most of all, nature’s role here in the new green economy is benefiting and we are a nation of happy people who have found a way to integrate our environment into our every day lives.