Last week, The Nosara Times had the pleasure of sitting down with local Nosara business owner, Jen Simmons. Jen launched her company known as Conocer in January of this year with the focus being sustainable tourism. She explains “Conocer is a social business that I have created with the main goal of uniting the 3 communities of Nosara (local, expatriate and tourist communities). Over the years with the increase in tourism and development the divide has widened significantly, and the whole idea is to bridge that gap through different activities.”
Jen, who recently completed her certification from the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, explains to me the four key components of measuring sustainability in tourism and travel:
Demonstrate Effective Sustainable Management – this includes a tourism policy with best practices and a process to constantly improve our impact.
Socioeconomic Impacts – This focuses on maximizing economic and social well-being of the local community and minimizing negative impacts
Cultural Impact – maximizing benefits and not harming the cultural aspects of Nosara is an integral part of our mission
Environmental Impacts – We strive to maximize the benefits to the environment while reducing consumption, pollution, and any other harmful actions to our environment.
“Practicing sustainable tourism and travel is a process and is not something that you can just arrive at,” states Jen. “It is the goal of Conocer to spread mindfulness about your impact and responsibility being a tourist and global citizen, anywhere that may be.”
Keeping with the theme of sustainable tourism, Conocer offers a multitude of cultural experiences, and are always looking to add more. They collaborate with many families in Nosara to provide these cultural immersion experiences. They offer “Cafecito” as an immersion into a local home. The groups will go into a home and learn how to make traditional dripped coffee with a coffee sock and handmade tortillas. Another popular offering is “En la Cocina.” The participants will learn to make a traditional casado, and then sit down to a nice meal with the family. “It’s something so simple. We normally don’t take that family time where we grew up, but here in Costa Rica, it is still so alive, well and important,” states Jen. “I want to help keep that tradition alive, because I believe it is so important. I have brought student groups, individuals, and families too. And I always go in with the fear that they will dislike it because it is just so simple. But it is always the most amazing experience because of its simplicity. And often people don’t have that in their life.” Aside from the in-home offerings, they also host ½ day eco tours in collaboration with Nosara Recicla and Experience Nosara, as well as community events, such as the weekly kids’ and adults’ volleyball classes/games every Saturday. I was lucky enough to join the group for a volleyball game myself. Jen tells me “it is nice to provide more activities for the youth of the community; socially, athletically and to get them involved in cross-cultural interaction. These types of activities and experiences bridge the gap.“ She added, “I have also been in conversation with the United Nations to bring a program here called “Girl Up,” a girls empowerment group. I am very excited about this and my vision for Conocer is, here in the Nosara, Monday through Sunday, to have activities for the community” Conocer is a for-profit social business, with part of that profit going directly back into the community, whether it is to buy better equipment for volleyball and in the future, basketball, or to provide different community classes. In the future, we will develop a foundational arm so we can apply for grants and raise funds for a sustainable tourism community center in the heart of Nosara .’Poco a poco.”
With any new business, especially here in Nosara, you will have your trials and tribulations. Jen explains to me that “the biggest challenge now is that we need the 600 plus rental properties in Nosara to know that we exist. That all the hotels in Nosara know that we exist as well, so they can start showing what we offer to their guests. ‘Our goal is not to bring more tourism to Nosara, but to access what we already have and show them a different type of tourism; one that provides positive social, economic, cultural and environmental impact.”
Contact info: text, call, Whatsapp – 8848-9191
*photos sourced via Conocer