Green Motives: Understanding the Relationship Between Tourism Employment and Migration to La Fortuna, Costa Rica
Dehler, Sallie M.
AdvisorHoffman, David M.
Copeland, Toni J.
This research examines the influence of tourism on migrants’ decisions to move to La Fortuna, Costa Rica, located in the buffer zone of Arenal National Park. Tourism is integral to Costa Rica’s economy and is closely connected to its national parks. Ecotourism is proposed as a non-extractive way for local people to benefit from natural resources, thus contributing to economic development and supporting conservation initiatives. However, if employment opportunities related to tourism encourage high rates of migration to edges of parks, then the resulting population growth could be detrimental to biodiversity conservation goals. Forty participants were interviewed for this project, which used cultural consensus analysis and semi-structured interviews to examine participants’ own behavior as well as shared cultural knowledge of factors that influence migration decisions. Results show that while employment opportunity was influential, other factors such as social stability and tranquility were equally important in participants’ motivations for relocating.