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Pura Vida

Whether I’m traveling for business or vacation, I’m always studying the details of the destination. It’s part of being in the hospitality business. I just returned from a 10-day trip to Costa Rica with my family, and it was a fantastic vacation. Costa Rica continues to capture both the eco-tourism and adventure traveler with experiences like hiking, zip lining and canyoneering tours, which make it very attractive to multi-generational family travel.  
 
However, what really captivated my attention was the constant embracing of the phrase “Pura Vida” by everyone in the tourism industry. While it translates to “pure life,” it has multiple meanings such as “this is living” or “the good life” plus it is also used as a greeting and a farewell. I was told the phrase was taken from a 1950s Mexican film and became so embedded in the culture that it was made the un-official motto in the 1970s and officially entered  into the dictionary in the 1990s.
 
Rarely was I not greeted with the popular phrase, asked where I was from and then asked if this was my first trip to Costa Rica. Almost always this was followed by, “thank you for coming to Costa Rica, we are glad to have you here,” with enthusiasm and pride.
 
We all strive to instill a corporate or property culture, but Costa Rica has done it successfully with these two words.  Tourism is a discipline taught in the schools along with English, and hospitality is embraced with pride as a field of study. While their tourism industry admittedly lacks some polish, they more than make up for it with their attitude and genuine hospitality. They really live “pura vida.”
 
Costa Rica shows us the power of a team embracing a culture to promote tourism as a boon to the economy and a meaningful way of life.

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