Green and Social beyond a Postcard Scene? Sustainable Tourism in Costa Rica and Vietnam


Victor Milla, Alonso Villalobos, Linda Wallbott, and Markus Lederer

Abstract: The paper analyses ask why and promoted by which actors Costa Rica and Vietnam have started to develop domestic sustainable tourism strategies, and which opportunities and challenges arise locally in the context of practicing sustainable tourism. Thereby, we contribute to both the research agenda on green transformations as well as on sustainable tourism. Empirically, and based on desk research and expert interviews with stakeholders at different political levels in both countries in 2018, we present two case studies, namely the province of Puntarenas (Costa Rica) and the province of Lao Cai (Vietnam). To do so, we first a short conceptualization of ‘green transformations’ and how sustainable tourism might contribute to its realization. Then we describe the profile of the tourism sector for both countries, followed by a review and analysis of the situation in the Puntarenas and Lao Cai provinces arguing that whereas Costa Rica has made substantive progress regarding eco-tourism, Vietnam is at the beginning of a long journey but has started to take first and highly relevant steps.

Keywords: Sustainable tourism, green transformation, Vietnam, Cost Rica.