College of Arts and Sciences


International Studies and Spanish

Faculty Mentor

Felipe Murtinho, PhD

Faculty Editor

Tanya Hayes, PhD

Student Editor

Isabelle Halaka


Tourism is a rapidly growing industry; many are attracted to the prospect of ecotourism enterprise in small communities. Tourists are increasingly drawn to locations for a combination of natural beauty and adventure opportunities. Because the ecotourism industry is growing rapidly, assessment is necessary in order to maintain focus on the sustainability goals of ecotourism. Existing assessment frameworks measure the sustainability of ecotourism projects, but there is an absence of broader criteria to act as an entry point into the ongoing process of sustainability assessment. In order for assessment to be more useful and more easily conducted, there is a need for a new set of sustainability indicators. This paper reviews the literature on sustainability indicators recommended for assessing ecotourism and proposes a new set of assessment criteria for implementation in systematic evaluations of ecotourism for large-scale use, and also as a first step in beginning assessments. A meta-analysis of eight case studies offers in-depth review of the assessment tools used to evaluate ecotourism in Costa Rica. Sustainability indicators in the literature can be overly complex, so these proposed criteria are more user-friendly and can be applied to a broader industry. Because it can be applied more widely, it has the potential to have a greater impact on global progress toward sustainability in the ecotourism industry.