Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Costa Rica is the best Country Brand in Latin America

By David Gomez for the Costa Rica News

Costa Rica is the best country brand in Latin America, says the seventh annual edition of the Country Brand Index (CBI), the global study of country brand strength by Future Brand, published last November 11th.

The CBI analyzes countries around the world in five main dimensions: Value System, Quality of Life, Good for Business, Heritage and Culture, and Tourism.

According to Future Brand, these are the factors that differentiate one country brand from another.

Costa Rica was chosen as the best country brand in Latin America due to its relatively strong performance across all five dimensions.

Costa Rica ranked particularly high in the Natural Beauty category, in which it held the 5th spot out of all the countries. In the global ranking Costa Rica obtained the 24th position, moving up 3 spots in comparison with last year’s ranking.

Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Peru make up the rest of the top 5 in Latin America, with Chile representing the most growth over the last two years.

Meanwhile, other countries in the region performed well only in specific metrics. For example, Uruguay ranked high in categories such as Value System and Quality of Life, while Panama ranked very well in the Good for Business and Shopping categories.

Other countries showed polarized perceptions. That is the case of Venezuela which has political issues, and Colombia which shows security problems.

Future Brand gathered its data between July and September through the use of several social media and research tools.

The report was based on the opinions of 3500 business and leisure travelers in 14 countries around the world, as well as the views and perceptions of experts in tourism, investment, and public policy in 16 different cities around the world.

“A strong country brand is more than the sum of its attributes: in total, it must make people’s lives better. From progressive politics to a sense of openness and freedom of speech, a country that is geared around its people and their needs will always score highly,” the report indicated.

Due to its rigorous and sophisticated research tools, the Country Brand Index has established itself as the most authoritative study on country branding in the world.

This year, the Costa Rican Institute of Tourism (ICT) has worked hard in developing several marketing strategies and promotional campaigns to consolidate Costa Rica as the best destination in Latin America.

Last October, the ICT created the campaign “Costa Rica’s Million Dollar Gift of Happiness,” which goal is to increase the flow of tourist traffic from the United States and Canada.

The campaign will extend until February 2013, and it represents an investment of $6,4 million.

As part of the campaign, the ICT will give away 80 free trips to Costa Rica through several social media sites like Facebook.

The ICT has also been promoting the country in other touristic markets.

For example, early this month the ICT participated in the World Travel Market Fair in London. The ICT stand had a total of 250m² and it focused on promoting Costa Rica’s natural beauty and its sustainability.

During the event, Costa Rica won the best stand design award. The judges praised the Costa Rican stand for the combination of music, rainforest sounds, and general decoration, which made visitors felt as if they were in Costa Rica.

In addition, last month the ICT participated in important touristic events such as the International Latin American Fair (FIT) in Argentina, the AVAB Fair in Brazil, and the Central America Travel Market Fair in Panama.

“Trade relationships that are established during touristic fairs allow us not only to work as a country in the consolidation of our touristic product, but also in the diversification of markets,” said Allan Flores, Minister of Tourism.

Flores indicates that the Ministry of Tourism (ICT) continues to work hard in promoting Costa Rican touristic destinations, especially in highly profitable markets.

By David Gómez for TheCostaRicaNews.com

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Emma's top 10 reasons for living in Costa Rica

By Emma, writing for Costarica.com

As a resident of Costa Rica for three plus years, I am regularly asked why I moved to this Central American nation. Here's my top 10 list for those of you thinking about relocating to Costa Rica. I love the lifestyle it affords, from exploring the incredible outdoors to feasting on goodies from my local farmers' market.

1) I don't need a car

I live in a peaceful mountain town, midway between the city and the country. My house is three blocks from the central park, and that means I'm within walking distance of the grocery store, restaurants, and most other amenities. When I need to get into town, I hop on the public bus (50¢) or catch a cab (starting at $1).

my local farmers' market

2) Fresh produce is cheap and available year-round

My local farmers' market is held every Saturday morning. I buy almost all of my fresh produce there, and it's always ripe and tasty. The vendors also sell fresh fish, chicken, eggs, and dairy products. I usually leave with 10-15 pounds of fruits and vegetables, and I rarely spend more than $8-$10.

3) Low cost of living

Budgeting in Costa Rica has everything to do with lifestyle. I live simply, but well -- a nice home, good food, evenings out -- on about half of what it would cost me in the United States. You can't put a monetary value on peace of mind.

4) Natural beauty

Costa Rica is the most wonderfully diverse country: where else can you find volcanoes, cloud forests, beaches, rainforests, and whitewater rivers within a few hours' drive? There is so much to see and explore; I could live here for the next 20 years, and there would still be more to discover.

costa rica's natural beauty is astounding

5) It's springtime all year long

Living in the Central Valley has its perks, but the weather is one of my favorites. Average daytime temperatures hover around 75-80º F; at night, the thermometer drops to a very comfortable 65-70º F.

6) The medical care is excellent and inexpensive

Whether you use public health care or the private medical system, Costa Rica has some of the best and most modern health care. Even better, both systems are much less expensive than their American counterpart: it costs me (a 26 year-old female) about $20 monthly to pay into the public system and $50 per month for private health care.

7) Costa Ricans are genuinely kind

Costa Ricans have an international reputation for being friendly to tourists, and their warmth doesn't stop there. Everywhere I go, I'm greeted by smiling people who are willing to help direct me to my destination, solve a problem, or answer questions.

8) Proximity to the United States

I fly back to the States at least once or twice a year to visit family and friends. I grew up on the East Coast, and nonstop flights from San Jose only take four to five hours -- that's less than taking the train from Boston to Washington, DC!

pura vida is about taking it slow and savoring the moment9) It's easy to live a healthy lifestyle

Living in Costa Rica has encouraged me to live a healthier lifestyle almost effortlessly. I buy fresh produce at the market, walk almost everywhere, and the great outdoors are always calling. There's an incredible national park just a few miles from my house (accessible by bus, of course!), the mountain roads are great for hiking, and there's always someone willing to kick a soccer ball around.

10) Because Costa Rica is "pura vida!"

"Pura vida' is a national expression that reminds us to take things slowly and to savor life. Many Costa Ricans will tell you that they don't live to work; they work to live. Costa Rica has taught me that owning less can actually mean having more -- when you stop worrying about the latest tech toy or how much you made last month, life is more fun -- it's pura vida!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Friday, November 11, 2011

Paving of the Roads to NatureWalk commences

Pavement of a section of the road through the town of Montielimar has now started. This is full concrete paving which means that the village will ultimately have one of the best roads in Costa Rica.

This is a very important step in the evolution of Naturewalk as it represents the paving of the first section of the road to Naturewalk.

Our town of Pavona (Naturewalk 2 surrounds Pavona) is slated for the same paving in March or April of 2012 giving Naturewalk its first paved concrete access roads. The paving should extend to the site of the Naturewalk horticultural and botanical gardens.

PRG will be investigating the extension of the road all the way up to Estancia Montana.

PRG met with the local president of the Pavona association on the 3rd of November 2011 and he informed them that a regional group of towns including Montielimar and Pavona meet monthly to discuss items of common interest. At the meeting on the 2nd of November 2011 the subject of SAFETY RAILS came up and the group has decided determined to lobby CONAVI (Consejo Nacional de Vialidad – the National Roads Authority) to install them citing their own safety concerns. So this appears to also be headed in the right direction and PRG will be lending their support to these initiatives.

In the pictures you will notice construction of a number of under road drainage and collection box systems. The pictures are of La Delicious north of Naturewalk and this improvement is moving south towards Naturewalk. Four of these large culverts have recently gone into Naturewalk and the collection box construction is next. These dramatically improve the drainage and thus the overall condition of the roads to deal with the rainy season water. Paving of any roads will not commence until these works are dealt with.

CONAVI have also committed to a new general road base through the general area 21 centimeters of gravel over the whole road. This will then provide an excellent base for our further paving works which PRG are planning.


Tim Alexander
PRG Canada

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Jatropha biodiesel, “one of the best alternatives” for the american continent

This has been the conclusion of the videoconference “Presentation of the Jatropha curcas L. network for investigation, development, and innovation in the production of biodiesel in Latin America and the Caribbean,” organized by the Hemispheric Program in Agroenergy and Biofuel of the Interamerican Cooperation Institute for Agriculture (IICA).

Representatives of technology and investigation centers, ministries of agriculture and environment, universities, international organisms and private companies from Argentina, Brasil, and Costa Rica participated in the event.

According to Orlando Vega, “the video-conference served as a place to address common problems and to identify collaborative work opportunities.”

For Jamil Macedo, director of the Agricultural Investigation and Innovation Cooperative Program for the South American Tropics (Procitrópicos), “even with its limitations, Jatropha curcas L. plantations, is one of the best alternatives for biodiesel production” in the hemisphere.

Investigation institutes from Bolivia, Brasil, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Perú, Surinam, and Venezuela are members of Procitrópicos, and their goal is to promote the Jatropha curcas L. to produce biodiesel.

For Macedo, “Jatropha seeds have great performance to produce high quality oil, the plantation is perennial, and adapts well; also, it is not a food source, so it doesn’t compete against food agriculture.”

He also said that “the Jatropha Network is an alternative to exchange scientific knowledge and to promote technological innovations necessary to visualize the Jatropha culture.”

To read the full story on the Costa Rica News click here

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Air China launches China's first test of a biofuel flight

BEIJING, Oct. 28, 2011 /PRNewswire-Asia/ -- Thanks to the successful teamwork by Air China, PetroChina, Boeing and Honeywell UOP, China's first airplane demonstration test using sustainable aviation biofuel was launched in Beijing Capital International Airport on October 28, 2011, based on the energy cooperation between China and the US. During the perfect test flight launch at this airport, the B747-400 passenger plane which is still in service was driven by aviation biofuel, the teamwork fruit of PetroChina and UOP.

The leader of the crew for this flight was Mr. Zheng Weimin, the Deputy Managing Director of Air China Fleet. With abundant flight experience, he has been awarded for many flight safety honors. Also, Zheng served on the first charter flight for Chinese evacuation in Libya with a B747. Captain Zhang Rongbin is the Deputy Director of the Flight Crew Subdivision IV of Air China Fleet. He made a prominent performance in Chinese evacuation in Libya too, and served on the important charter flight for the Olympic Games twice. Mr. Yuan Hang was the chief copilot, a young airman model in subdivision IV, having twice served in Chinese evacuations in Libya.

The crew made an elaborate preparation before the test flight. They made specific studies in order of the process requirements on fuel ingredients, the differences to traditional fuels, impact possibilities to flight and special occasion management. Through iterative exercises in simulators, the crew was getting more familiar with such circumstances. All of this contributed important information for the success of the test flight.

The feedstock for this test launch is derived from the jatropha material base of PetroChina. With the technology of UOP, the crude oil of jatropha could be transformed into aviation biofuel. In order to accord with both the standard of GB6537 and ASTM D7566-11 simultaneously, China Aviation Oil mixed aviation biofuel with traditional aviation kerosene by a proportion of 50:50. Boeing and P&W are the technology support providers for aircraft and engine, respectively.

The quality of aviation biofuel may meet or even surpass the current aviation oil standard. Aviation biofuel can work properly after being directly mixed with traditional fossil-fuel, neither aircraft nor engine needs to be refit, and neither storage nor transportation facility needs to be built or rebuilt. At present, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the US has ratified the standard of ASTM D7566-11. Therefore, any mixed aviation biofuel according to this standard can be used on business flights immediately. With such advantage, aviation biofuel may replace traditional fossil-fuel. The great pressure brought by the oil shortage would be reduced if aviation biofuel was industrialized.

Presently, the second-generation biofuels are mainly jatropha, camelina, salt plant and microalgae. These non-food sources do not compete with food crops for land or water. Also, many aspects should be taken into account in the process of aviation biofuel development, such as biodiversity protection, regional economic development promotion and more employment opportunities. Therefore, many industries include carriers and energy suppliers, and aircraft and engine manufacturers are working together now to accelerate the development and industrialization of sustainable aviation biofuel.

For a long period, electricity, solar power, hydrogen power, nuclear power and many other new energy resources are limited for use on business flights to ensure flight safety, the primacy of the industry. Hence the only replaceable energy resource for aviation is biofuel. The application of biofuels in aviation would be a brand new environmental protection technology as well as instrument which may play a significant role in the business of aviation emission reduction, energy crisis management, as well as a sustainable industry development.

In recent years, Air China has committed itself to green flight of what energy-saving and emission reduction is highly valued. Through fleet optimization, second dispatch and a series of other actions, the operation efficiency is advanced, aviation kerosene is saved, and exhaust emission is dwarfed. Aiming at energy-saving and emission reduction, Air China created the Energy and Environment Test System in 2009 by itself, inaugurated its Green Flight in 2010, joined the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group (SAFUG) and became the first carrier that launched the airplane demonstration test flight for biofuel in China in 2011.