Sustainability Policies

Key to Costa Rica works exclusively with ACTUAR Rural Adventures. We work with them because they care about sustainable tourism, from choosing the least polluting transportation options, to supporting local economies and cultures. Take a look at the policies that have won them the highest ranking on Costa Rica's Certification of Sustainable Tourism, the CST:

ACTUAR's Mission Statement

To promote the environmental, social, cultural and economic sustainability of our members' community-based rural tourism enterprises, through experiencing our natural environment, strengthening our traditional culture, and providing authentic experiences for our clients.


  • We offer visitors a model of sustainable tourism development that encourages local residents to be entrepreneurs on their own land rather than being pressured sell it.
  • Our local guides will enrich your experience by telling their stories as part of local history, making for free flowing cultural interchange.
  • We want our visitors to know the cultural diversity of our country, experiencing indigenous, Afro-Caribbean and campesino cultures.
  • We offer travelers the opportunity to participate in conservation programs and other aspects of rural life, or in cultural events like the Fiesta del Toro y la Mula in Térraba.
  • We promote decentralized tourism, encouraging direct contact with nature in less-visited areas in order to reduce the impact on over-exploited parks, reserves and tourist destinations.
  • We educate our travelers about the conservation efforts of our members and providers.

Environmental protection

  • We oppose the extraction of wild plants and the illegal capture of wild animals by tourism providers or tourists. We avoid such activities.
  • We do not sell endangered flora or fauna, and reminds visitors not to feed wild animals.
  • We train our employees, members and providers in environmental protection, waste management and sustainable practices
  • We promote organic farming and reforestation in the areas protected by our members.
  • By strengthening rural community tourism, ACTUAR supports its members in preserving over 25.000 acres of forest, thus creating biological corridors throughout the country.

Water and energy conservation

  • We implement mechanisms to reduce the use of water on our tours
  • By stimulating rural community tourism, we encourage our members to participate in programs that buy land in order to protect watershed and to promote reforestation
  • We encourage our members, employees, guides and clients to conserve energy
  • We promote the use of alternative energy sources in the areas we visit. In the office, we monitor energy consumption in order to reduce it.

Promoting local community development

  • Sustainable local development is our reason for being. We are convinced that well-managed rural community tourism is an ideal tool for both community development AND conservation of natural resources.
  • We encourage the creation of projects by local communities that comply with our sustainability criteria and provide excellent service.
  • We give priority to businesses dedicated to community development while respecting local cultural identity.
  • When choosing food services, souvenirs, tours and lodging, we give priority to businesses owned and managed by local residents
  • We promote the use of products produced in the communities we visit
  • ACTUAR's staff, board of directors and associates encourage, respect and practice the values and beliefs that make Costa Rica Costa Rican!

Sustainability policies for our members and suppliers

  • We promote sustainable practices in each rural tourism destination and in each of our business partners. We invest in training programs for our members and suppliers on a wide range of themes from native cuisine, natural history and cultural interpretation to waste management.
  • We incorporate environmental, labor and business standards in our travel agency and in each one of the rural tourism organizations that are co-owners of ACTUAR. We invest in workshops and educational materials to help our members and suppliers formalize their business practices and comply with all the laws required in order to function adequately.
  • We strive to improve the quality of services available to our members and suppliers, and thus the sustainable development of each of their communities. We have formed alliances with universities and with the National Training Institute (INA) to develop training programs for our members and suppliers.
  • We generate business opportunities and access to incentives for improving the offerings of rural tourism. We provide "solidarity credits" to our member-suppliers so that they can improve the quality of their services.
  • We encourage fairness in the marketplace by healthy business practices on ACTUAR's part, and by training our members in marketing, business ethics, and self-sufficiency. To this end we organize the Rural Community Tourism Fair each November, so that members can generate their own contacts within the tourism industry

Our buying policies

  • When buying products and services, we choose businesses that share our interest in and commitment to sustainable development and production.
  • We encourage our members and providers to use sustainable practices in their businesses.
  • Companies that provide air, land and water transport for our tours must comply with national emissions standards in order to minimize pollution.

Sustainability policies with our clients

  • We make sure that our guides enrich our clients' experience by accurate interpretation of the natural, cultural and archaeological attractions in their itineraries
  • We evaluate, analyze and implement the feedback we get from our clients in order to improve ACTUAR's services.
  • With written and oral information, we encourage our clients to respect local customs and norms.


  • We make an effort to ensure safety in each of our itineraries. We train our staff in first aid, and we make sure that emergency plans are in place in at the rural inns we visit. We make sure that all safety measures required by our liability policy are implemented by our member/providers.
  • We ensure that our visitors have the information they need about health precautions and security at the places they visit.

Our administrative and operations staff

  • We make an effort to acquaint our staff with our sustainability policies in order to make sure they are put into practice
  • ACTUAR opposes the sexual exploitation of minors, sexual harrassment, child prostitution, and the comsumption of illegal substances, and we denounce behavior that promotes them.
  • Our employees and associates must always be examples of respect for different cultures, including local cultures.
  • We make sure that ACTUAR's employees and associates comply with our environmental, social and operational manuals and policies.
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