The Impact of Tourism and Foreign Influence on Monteverde

Initially I think that the efforts of the Quakers that arrived in Monteverde negatively impacted Monteverde. When the Quakers arrived from Alabama in 1951 they immediately began to build and develop. Don Ricardo mentioned that his father was the first person to introduce the chainsaw to the area. With their modern tools and technology, the Quakers were able to quickly clear a lot of the land to build their community. They also deforested large areas to allow the cows for their cheese farm to graze. Once the Quakers began to realize their impact on the environment and why it should be conserved I believe the impact they had on the area shifted from being negative to positive. Their work brought more schools to the are and they also helped the local economy by opening Monteverde’s first dairy farm. Now the Quakers are one of the most prominent groups promoting conservation of Monteverde’s local cloud forests.

Foreign investors have had a huge impact on Monteverde and their intervention in the local economy has allowed Monteverde to flourish as a popular tourist destination in Costa Rica. For example, a Mexican company bought the Quakers dairy farm in Monteverde which allows the Quakers to shift their focus. Now instead of being farmers that can create businesses that rely on tourism. Don Ricardo mentioned that they give guided tours and do lectures to make revenue off the tourists in Monteverde. They can also focus on preserving the local ecosystem and stopping deforestation. Another example of foreign investment impacting Monteverde is Life Monteverde’s development from a small coffee farm to an education and research center as well as a tourist location. Initially Life Monteverde was a small coffee farm that roasted beans for the local economy and exported green beans to companies in the United States. As the area became more developed it started to become a tourist attraction. Life Monteverde shifted their business model to benefit from the local tourism by giving coffee tours. Also, Life Monteverde partnered with different universities to conduct research and allow the universities to gather data from their coffee farms. For both the Quakers and Life Monteverde foreign involvement has allowed them to diversify their income making their businesses more sustainable.

I think this shift overall is positive to Monteverde and to the country since it brings a lot more money into the area. Since the area became a popular tourist destination many businesses opened or shifted their business model to make money from the new influx of gringos. More hotels and restaurants were constructed as well as ecotourism buisnesses that offer attractions such as ziplining, ATV rides, and nature walks. Of course, with all these new local businesses deforestation and environmental conservation become concerns. I believe that if these businesses are consciences of their ecological footprint and strive to be environmentally sustainable going forward that tourism and foreign influence have a positive impact on Monteverde.

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