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Will tourism save or destroy the most biodiverse place on Earth?

Duration: 48 minutes | Directed by Eytan Elterman and Marco Bollinger

The tropical rainforest of Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula contains 2.5% of the world’s biodiversity on less than one millionth of the planet’s surface. Its incredible natural beauty has caught the eye of the tourism industry and the planned construction of an international airport threatens to transform the region forever. Spanning more than five years, 2.5% – The Osa Peninsula weaves together voices from Osa residents, local leaders and conservation experts as they attempt to build a tourism industry that balances environmental protection with the needs of local communities.

With themes that resonate well beyond the borders of Costa Rica, the film illuminates the effects of tourism development on local communities and offers a hopeful vision for the future of travel in the planet's most fragile places.

Meet the Characters

The story follows Xinia, a single mother who mines gold for a living, and introduces Johnson and his brother Carlos, ex-hunters who now lead wildlife treks on their rainforest property. Xinia, Johnson and Carlos are three of many Osa residents who are creating “community tourism” projects, opening their homes and land to travelers who want a more personal experience in exploring the nature and culture of the Osa. These projects give locals in remote, rural communities an opportunity to tap into the growing tourism economy, retain their land, and provide travelers with an unforgettable experience. Many environmental experts see it as a great strategy for conservation and many Osa locals hope it is the future of tourism in the region. But will it succeed?

The Filmmakers

Several years ago filmmakers Marco and Eytan fell in love with this small, wondrous region in Costa Rica’s South Pacific. After visiting the area, they returned home to California with one goal in mind; help conserve the Osa Peninsula.

Their crowdfunding campaign made the national Costa Rican news when they dressed up like rainforest animals and danced for 107 hours straight to raise the funds they needed (watch the newscast here). Spending six months on the ground in the most biologically intense place on Earth helped them understand the delicate balance between rainforest conservation and tourism development. They’ve returned to the Osa many times over the past 5 years, deepening connections and finding new ways to support their friends in communities throughout the Osa.

Press & Reviews

“Communicates...the importance of traveling in a different way for the future of our planet.”

-- Paula Vlamings, CEO of Tourism Cares

“A globally important film."

-- Santa Monica Independent Film Festival

“It’s honest and a necessary window into the story you haven’t heard”

-- Netanya Trimboli, Hosteling International USA

“A compelling case for why sustainable, community-based tourism should be the future of the travel industry."

-- Geoff Bolan, CEO of Sustainable Travel International.

by 23 reviewers

Ahmed Ashfar

I want to go to Costa Rica

I liked the film a lot as it reminded me of my home country India. My family also comes from an ecologically sensitive region in South India. I understand the perspective of the filmmaker and think that it is only fair if the money from tourism reaches the local people instead of big hotel brands. I see the same thing happening in every touristic destination where I see familiar hotel brands that I am used to seeing everywhere. It is like as if they are trying to create a monopoly by utilizing the popularity of the area.


Congratulations for your work! Not only the pictures are amazing but also the environmental and social cause being suportes is out of this world. Moreover I learned a lot about community and social tourism.

A win-win for all

This tourism model is a win-win for everyone involved. I can say so many great things about the film and how it brought out so many poignant points. However, to keep it brief, what I will share is that I believe that when it comes down to the most viable tourism product, it rests on the uniqueness of the people, their culture and the uniqueness of the destination which Lokal Travel has done a great job of capturing.

Impact & Mission

All funds raised through sale of the film support sustainable, community-based tourism projects around the world.

Making 2.5% inspired directors Eytan and Marco to join forces with their co-founders to launch Lokal, a social enterprise on a mission to change the way the world travels. Lokal helps protect unique places like the Osa by promoting community-based travel experiences. From stunning ecolodges in the Brazilian Amazon to women-run homestays in the Himalayas, the platform already highlights travel experiences in more than 25 countries that all support conservation of fragile environments and preservation of local cultures.

Why Community-Based Tourism?

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, as little as 5% of the money international travelers spend on trips actually reaches local communities. Instead, money goes to internationally-owned hotels and tour operators who send earnings abroad and negatively impact local environments and culture. Community-based tourism projects ensure your travel dollars go directly into the hands of local people who are committed to conserving fragile environments, improving life for local communities and preserving cultural traditions.

How Lokal Makes a Difference

Most community-based tourism projects are small in scale and local entrepreneurs don’t have the resources needed to reach global travelers. Without visitors, these projects can't make a difference in their communities. Lokal provides these impactful businesses with free/low-cost technology and marketing support that helps them connect with our growing community of conscious travelers. Our partner communities get more visitors and travelers get to access unique, sustainable experiences. It's a true win-win.

Contributing to the film provides community tourism projects with the tools and support they need to connect with global travelers.

Our Partners

A big thank you to the many amazing people and companies that helped to make this film a reality.

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