Ecotourism Development in Costa Rica: The Search for Oro Verde examines the use of ecotourism as a development strategy in Costa Rica and its applicability to other Central American states. Ecotourism provides an important environmental check on industry, giving the environment a voice by making its preservation an economic necessity due to the number of people who derive their income from it. The move away from agriculture to ecotourism is a natural fit because many of those who are engaged in agriculture have extensive knowledge of plants and animals that can be utilized by the ecotourism industry.
The use of ecotourism as a development strategy is distinctive. For ecotourism to succeed, it must preserve the natural environment, but it must do so in a way that does not preclude growth in other sectors of the economy. Miller shows how the successful pursuit of foreign direct investment coupled with Costa Rica's immense biodiversity and its attractiveness to tourists is key to understanding the success of the Costa Rican economy. Many of the preferences that ecotourists have for a vacation destination also help create an amenable atmosphere for business. These factors include: political and social stability, high quality of life, low levels of corruption, economic freedom, high levels of education, and a suitable infrastructure. The most important part of this research is its development of strategies based upon the Costa Rican model that would be useful for other states in the region. When looking at whether states can replicate the development strategy of Costa Rica, environmental sustainability is an important concern. Ecotourism Development in Costa Rica is an essential text for students and scholars interested in Latin American politics and history, development studies, and environmental sustainability.
Introduction. What is Ecotourism?
Chapter 1. Ecotourism as a Development Strategy
Chapter 2. Politics, Economics, and Exceptionalism in Costa Rica
Chapter 3. Ecotourism in Costa Rica
Chapter 4. Ecotourism, Foreign Direct Investment, and the Costa Rican Model
Chapter 5. Conclusion: Lessons from Costa Rica
Andrew P. Miller is an assistant professor of comparative politics and international relations at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, specializing in economic development issues in Central America.
"Ecotourism Development in Costa Rica is a concise, clearly-written, and balanced portrait of ecotourism as a development strategy in Costa Rica. The discussions about the management of ecotourism as a resource, including the development of national parks, control over foreign investment, provision of business incentives, and regulation of certification programs are particularly useful. This book raises fascinating questions about the transferability of the Costa Rican model to the rest of the region."
– Mary A. Clark, Tulane University
"Andrew Miller has written a fine book on Costa Rican ecotourism. He reviews the country's political and economic development, then explains ecotourism and how it fits into Costa Rica's development strategy. Miller's readable and balanced work avoids mystification of both Costa Rica and ecotourism by also highlighting risks and some of the flaws in ecotourism and the country's environmental performance. I highly recommend this book."
– John Booth, University of North Texas
"Miller (Wilkes Univ.) shows how Costa Rica's cultivation of a societal environmental ethic has led to its leadership in ecotourism and economic development. Miller establishes the value of ecotourism: it decreases risks from agricultural export-led growth by creating jobs and entrepreneurship, creating investments in human capital, providing a bulwark against outsourcing, and empowering environmental preservation through placing value on natural assets. The next sections demonstrate the unique political and economic development trajectory of Costa Rica, one that has enabled it to enact policies conducive to the growth of both foreign direct investment and ecotourism. The final sections explain the factors necessary for other countries to replicate Costa Rica's success. The volume is well organized and clearly written, with detailed yet well-summarized definitions of key terms, and relevant historical developments. Summing Up: Recommended. All readership levels."