This March 27th at 8:00 AM (Costa Rican time), we’re offering the opportunity to travel virtually to a Costa Rican coffee farm. The Costa Rican Virtual Coffee Experience is produced by Local Purse, a company that offers virtual tours all over the world, in partnership with Local Keeps and Wikol Travel.
What makes this tour so special?
Virtual tours are a way of helping the travel industry, one of the sectors that have been impacted the most during the pandemic. Also, such tours help local communities and artisans and provide these digital tourists with exclusive insight on what this country can offer to the world. Finally, it’s a different way of travelling consciously.
Local Keeps interviewed Marco Obón, owner of Wikol Travel, to learn more about conscious travel and how such a concept has been helping green economies around the world.
What is the concept of conscious travel?
Marco: We believe that visiting a country is not only about admiring its natural beauty. There's a very important part, which is the people we get to know. The community thrives when you stay in a hotel, but explore outside, meet people, buy local gifts from local artisans, and try to help the local economy.
So it's not only about the environment, but it's about people as well. We are able to distribute this income to everyone in the community that is involved, directly or indirectly, with tourism. because at the end, is to have a sustainable way of life between us humans and Mother Nature, so we can all coexist in the same place.
What tips or what things would you give to someone who wants to travel consciously?
I'd say that, think about the people and try to buy as much local product as you can. Tip the local tour guide, visit a local restaurant and buy from the local souvenir shop. That way, every day you spend in this country, you are truly supporting the community. That would be my number one advice.
My second advice research on whether you are choosing hotels and experiences that go alongside Mother Nature. Now, it's really easy to know, thanks to the Internet, if companies have certifications that are contributing to the planet. For example, in Costa Rica, instead of categorizing hotels from one to five stars, they do so from one to five leafs.
Receiving five leaves is the highest recognition possible, and means that you're doing the best you in terms of sustainability. So if you're when you choose these hotels, you’re not only selecting it because of quality or price; you’re also contributing to the local economy and Mother Nature.
What’s the difference of conscious travel in comparison to any other types of tourism?
When people travel, they want to visit a country and come back home feeling rested and fulfilled meaning you did your part. And the best way to do that is by connecting to local people and supporting their community. You want to admire natural beauty without interfering with it.
There’s no magic in going from one place to another without ever stopping and talking to people. It’s always good to push back and talk to the people and really connect with the destination. If you respect these people and respect nature, your conscious trip will transform into a conscious experience for yourself. So, I would say that's the most important difference.
Downtown San José is a vivid city, filled with stories.
Is the Costa Rican Virtual Artisan Coffee Experience part of what conscious travel is all about?
This is a really great experience because it’s actually tying together everything that we just talked about, because they're only going to have the opportunity of working on an amazing farm. And just the natural beauty around it is really amazing.
But most importantly, you’ll be able to meet these owners, learn more about their story and how they started the coffee farm. You know,you’ll be hearing from the owners themselves, and you’ll learn about how the families were impacted positively because of the coffee farm. And then we're going to have the opportunity to understand how the entire company works.
Once again, tourism and local consumption help families and local communities thrive. This tour is an amazing opportunity to see a very beautiful place. Most importantly, you’ll be able to hear about local entrepreneurs in the Costa Rican countryside. So I think it's going to be a great chance to see the full picture.
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