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Municipality of Nicoya and Costa Rica Azul NGO Look to Revive Economy Through Health Tourism

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On Monday, March 28, the municipal council members unanimously agreed Nicoya to reaffirm that the canton is one of the world’s blue zones.

The proposal was brought to council members by Dr. Christian Rivera Paniagua, president and founder of the nonprofit organization Costa Rica Azul.

“The imperative need to have a model of economic recovery is undeniable and if that model is local, native and has global recognition, then we are looking at an opportunity that is unparalleled,” explained Rivera.

In 2007, American researcher Dan Buettner designated the Nicoya Peninsula as one of the five places in the world where people live longer and enjoy a better quality of life.

That’s why Rivera explained the need to transform offering the green tourism that has characterized the canton and the country into tourism that emphasizes health and well-being through culture, gastronomy, sports and sustainability.

“We want to go along a line of health and wellness, which is an industry worth about $1.2 trillion per year, and Costa Rica is not getting a piece of that pie. Costa Rica continues to bet on a traditional green model in which we do not have a different approach in the region because everyone sells the same thing and sells it cheaper. It is proven that health and wellness tourism makes tourists stay longer, The target populations are the elderly, the obese and those who have some degree of disability. They are people who are going to stay almost twice as long and spend almost three times as much, and it is money that stays in the local towns.”

For their part, the council members approved the request to promote the canton as a healthy destination and work together with the organization Costa Rica Azul as well as looking to form alliances with the local governments of Sardinia in Italy, Ikaria in Greece, Loma Linda in California and Okinawa in Japan, which are the other areas in the world designated as blue zones.

“We are going to start by giving the Recaredo Briceño park benches the distinctive blue zone identity as well as other points of interest in the canton, in addition to emphasizing Nicoya as an international blue zone on the municipality’s website and linking as sister cities with the local governments of the other blue zones,” explained Rivera.

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