Certifications are one of the international strategies to prevent green washing or false or misleading marketing of a product as ecologically sound. The Costa Rican government was the first government to create a certification for sustainable tourism to provide travelers with the peace of mind that their vacation dollars are being spent responsibly. The ICT (The Costa Rican Institute for Tourism), the government agency in charge of the certification, requires compelling proof of everything the hotel or travel agent claims to be doing including pictures, signed letters and an on-site inspection that lasts for 2-3 days. Nicuesa made a large commitment of both time and personell to successfully complete the process. A full time Sustainability Coordinator was hired and steps have been taken to become more sustainable every year.
Nicuesaâ€™s final document was 82 pages long with 113 appendices attached and is complete in both English and Spanish. The onsite inspection was carried out by 2 inspectors from December 10th to the 11th and the final documentation was reviewed and handed in March. Nicuesa is now awaiting the final rating which is determined by the inspectors and then approved by a governmental council within the ICT. Each question has a rating and each section out of 4 is weighted the same. Thus, if a hotel receives a 90% compliance with 3 sections and a 60% compliance with 1 section, their overall rating in 60%. This is in an effort to encourage real sustainability that incorporates all of these elements and not just parts.