Tamarindo, Costa Rica, is fake. Unfortunately, its condition isn't an isolated one.
It's one of many tourist towns founded and funded almost exclusively by foreign developers, and while money-laden visitors spur the local economy, the bad creeps in along with the good: prostitution and drugs are the de facto problems, and locals who work in Tamarindo find that they can't afford to eat in their own restaurants.
This is a different sort of tone for the Top Pick this week, but I think it's important enough to share. The same group behind this short interview is also producing a documentary called 2.5 Percent, a film that seeks to educate the world about the last virgin rainforest on the Pacific Coast in Central America, and home to 2.5% of the entire world's biodiversity. With the travel industry as large as it is ($8.5 trillion annually), we as travelers have more responsibility for the fate of our world than we probably think.
It's not wrong to visit these places. But with travel proponents batting around terms like "responsible travel" and "sustainable tourism," it might help to know exactly what it is that's being referred to, and 2.5% is a good start.