In addition to this, Costa Rica has one of the most extensive and well-developed national park systems in all of Latin America. An aerial tram which takes visitors by cable car over the top of the rain forest is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Costa Rica (Liu et al., 2008, p. 259).
Prior to the 1980s when Costa Rica’s popularity increased, the country’s hotel industry was small. As demand grew, many Costa Ricans entered the hotel business. The majority of new hotels were owned and operated by inexperienced individuals who learned the business by trial and error. A small number of hotels were run by international chains operating in Costa Rica using both staff and management from their global operations. Soon after, a number of local hotel operators began working with a number of foreign hotel operators as joint-venture partners. Marriott Hotels was one of these companies. This system worked so well in Costa Rica that a number of other countries in the region, including Guatemala, El Salvador and Panama, began to use the same formula. These joint-venture partnerships were characterized by a majority of local shareholders, a minority stake by the international chain and a strong training and development component (Liu et al., 2008, p. 260).
Increased environmental awareness and the growing interest in ecotourism can cause conflicting priorities for exotic locations such as Costa Rica. While the country must promote itself as a tourist attraction, it must also protect the country’s natural resources. The demands of sustainability and economic growth can be in conflict (Liu et al., 2008, p. 259).
In order to remain a tourist attraction and extend the life cycle of its attractiveness, a country must know a great deal about its international visitors as they are the ones who are primarily responsible for the destination’s tourists (Liu et al., 2008, p. 260).