SAN JOSE, Costa Rica, October 14, 2008 – National Geographic, in partnership with Ashoka’s Changemakers, recently recognized Costa Rican eco-adventure company, Rios Tropicales, as one of the three winners of its 2008 Geotourism Challenge. Rios Tropicales was selected for its commitment to protecting the rainforest in collaboration with local communities, tourists, and conservation organizations in Costa Rica. The Rios Tropicales submission was chosen by a panel of experts that received 508 nominations from 86 countries.

The goal of the 2008 Geotourism Challenge is to identify and showcase innovators, individuals and organizations that support geotourism initiatives. According to National Geographic, geotourism means “tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place – its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents.”

“We are pleased that Rios Tropicales has been among the winners of the prestigious 2008 Geotourism Challenge,” said Maria Amalia Revelo, Deputy Manager & Director of Marketing for the Costa Rica Tourist Board. “We believe that responsible and sustainable tourism are the only options for our country, this encourages us and the Costa Rican industry to strengthen our efforts in the protection of the environment and natural resources, as well as working more closely with our communities” she added.

Rios Tropicales is an innovator in sustainable tourism in Costa Rica. The company has an exemplary program, which encompasses education, reforestation, conservation and health projects. Through the Rios Tropicales Foundation, the company works in partnership with the local communities to establish innovative conservation and education programs in elementary schools. One example is The Regional River Environmental Educational Pilot Project in which the company educates children about the importance of natural resources conservation, water quality, river pollution solutions, among other topics. This program has already been implemented in most schools throughout the country.

The winners of the 2008 Geotourism Challenge will work with National Geographic and Ashoka’s Challengemakers in expanding their conservation and community initiatives. Goals for Rios Tropicales include the creation of additional healthcare and education projects to fulfill the urgent needs of the local communities. Additionally, they will work on projects which promote conservation and rainforest restoration.

The 2008 Geotourism Challenge winners are 3 Nepali Sisters Adventure Trekking, Rios Tropicales and the Yachana Foundation. The sponsors of the challenge will host an award ceremony in Washington DC next October 13-15, 2008.

About Costa Rica
Costa Rica is located in Central America, nestled between Nicaragua and Panama, and bordered on the east by the Caribbean Sea and the west by the Pacific Ocean. This small country represents only .01 % of the planet’s surface and it shelters almost 4% of the existing world’s biodiversity. It has given priority to the conservation of its natural resources, protecting 26% of its national territory through the creation of National Parks and other natural areas.

The country also offers world-class eco-tourism and adventure travel. The options are unlimited for any discriminating traveler: horseback riding on a secluded beach; hiking through the lush whispering greenery of a rain forest; having an exhilarating experience on a white-water rafting trip, observing the tropical forests from a canopy tour; surfing the blue waves of either coast; experiencing a quite, close encounter with different species of birds and wildlife; and enjoying the diverse culture and hospitality of the Ticos.

About the Costa Rica Tourist Board
The Costa Rica Tourist Board, created in 1955, is an autonomous institution of the State, responsible for regulating the tourism activity in Costa Rica and promoting Costa Rica’s tourism attractions and destinations both at a national and international level. The Costa Rica Tourist Board creates tourism norms, regulations, incentives and grants the tourist declaratory for Costa Rica’s hotels, travel agencies, rental cars and other tourism organization and service provider.