Costa Rica Tourism Board Makes Conscious Effort to Promote Gastronomy via the National Plan for Healthy and Sustainable Food

According to the World Tourism Organization, gastronomy is becoming one of the most important incentives for travel, and countries should have strategies put in place to strengthen the quality, variety and uniqueness of the autonomous products of their destination.

Fresh ingredientsWith those statistics in mind, the Costa Rica Tourism Board, along with the Costa Rican Chamber of Restaurants (CACORE) and the National Institute of Biodiversity (INBio), have announced the second phase of their National Plan for Healthy and Sustainable Food. Developed as a new strategy which is planned to help promote the country’s competitiveness as a travel destination, the plan will showcase its gastronomic products and highlight its national heritage.

The program’s purpose is to promote Costa Rican cuisine as sustainable, considering social, environmental and economic aspects in all phases of the production, marketing and service. The program not only assists in training culinary establishments’ staff on how to prepare traditional dishes, but places high emphasis in using local plants, vegetables and fruits for the recipes. This initiative is expected to garner increased appreciation for the local gastronomical culture at a national and international level.

“Here at the ICT, we are extremely proud of our national cuisine and even more proud to showcase it to the world via our tourism sector,” said Alejandro Castro Alfaro, director of marketing for the Costa Rica Tourism Board. “The National Plan for Healthy and Sustainable Food was created to further support this idea as well as the Sustainable Tourism National Plan.”

Costa Rica’s tropical location offers exotic fruits and vegetables readily available and included in local cuisine and drinks. When visiting the Caribbean coast don’t forget to try the jerk chicken, seafood, and rice and beans dishes. Or if traveling by Lake Arenal, try the charcoal grilled freshwater bass served with a “palmito” salad and a “guanabana batido” (shake). Other dishes worth trying are ceviche in the Pacific Coast, a “pipa” (coconut) fresh off the tree on the beach, “tamales” or a cup of Costa Rican coffee from a “chorreador de café” (coffee pourer).

As part of the committee that developed the National Sustainable and Health Food Plan, the ICT is implementing several projects to support the program. In January 2015, ICT issued its first ever Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST) for gastronomy to six restaurants that are raising the bar for truly authentic, sustainable cuisine. The tourism board also plans to develop gastronomical festivals to further support the Costa Rican Traditional Gastronomy Program.

Training and certification at the national level for the gastronomical and/or tourism sector of Costa Rica are continuing in 2016.

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