Traditionally an agricultural economy the region is undergoing changes with the advent of eco-tourism and the worldwide interest in visiting Costa Rica. Certainly, for the community, coffee is still a staple product, as is sugar, vegetables, fruit and dairy products. Coffee farming takes place on the high slopes of the surrounding hills and tours of the fincas can be arranged.
Local fruit stands are a ‘must stop’ for delicious pineapple, mango, papaya, passion fruit and lesser known varieties as well as dulce – the local sugar that is delicious in drinks and desserts. Worth trying too are the many fruit juices or refrescos made from fresh fruit and water or milk.
Mt Chirripo attracts many hikers and nature lovers to San Gerardo so that the community derives income also from guides, hotels, restaurants, bars and tourist activities. How this will develop over the years to come is a worthy question:
- Can the community control the amount of outside interest in exploiting tourist potential?
- Can local ecotourism encourage a ‘light footprint’ to preserve the environment?
- Can more opportunities be generated by the local community for income generating tourist possibilities like tours, crafts, amenities to provide the means for a sustainable community?