Sustainable travel is important to all of us. People around the world have begun to realize the importance of sustainability to make natural resources available to the next century. Sustainable tourism considers the current and future economic, social, and environmental impacts that fulfill the needs of tourists, the industry, the environment, and the host communities.
Here’re the top ten destinations that are leading the way in sustainability:
1. Lake Tahoe, USA
Lake Tahoe crosses into both California and Nevada and is the largest alpine lake in North America. The lake had been an ideal spot for outdoor activities for decades. Unfortunately, such activities have damaged the watersheds and aquatic life over the years.
But a new collaboration between public and private groups is already helping to improve environmental conditions like improvements in forest health, aquatic habitat restoration, and lake clarity. Tourists can do their part too, by picking up trash, staying on designated trails, and limiting usage of vehicles as much as possible.
2. Republic of Palau
Palau is a country that is made up of more than 500 islands and is located in the Pacific Ocean. Being one of the most famous destinations in the world, Palau risked incurring much harm in the country’s waters from too much interference by man.
However, the government is making an effort to make the country’s beautiful natural environment minimally impacted by human touch. And, for that, nearly 500 miles of reefs are designated no-fishing zones. As a result, many endangered fish species have repopulated the area.
3. Ras Al Khaimah, UAE
Ras Al Khaimah‘s new destination strategy focuses on nature, leisure, adventure, sustainability, accessibility, and authenticity in the post-pandemic age. Ras Al Khaimah’s Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) aims to develop the Emirate’s tourism infrastructure as a world-class destination for leisure and business travel by creating sustainable investment opportunities and improving the living for their residents.
To enhance sustainable tourism, more than 20 big projects are underway which include eco-friendly hotels named Earth Hotels Altitude and A Mantis Collection Mountain Lodge. A Cloud7 Camp is also being established at Jebel Jais for the ultimate glamping experience with 30 accommodation units built out of sustainable material.
Other sustainable projects include Jais Yard, Balloon Base at Jebel Jais, etc. A Scallop Ranch at Al Hamra Marine is also going to be set up which will be the first of its kind attraction in the UAE that will help and improve the knowledge of the marine ecosystem with sea cucumber and sea grass species within their farm. Jais Eco Golf, Cloud7 Camp AlSawan, Bear Grylls Explorer Camp, Jais Sledder are some other projects to be named.
4. Gothenburg, Sweden
Gothenburg has been crowned the world’s most sustainable destination for the past years on the Global Destination Sustainable Index. The majority of Gothenburg’s public transport runs off renewable energy. Gothenburg’s hotels have also been awarded environmental diplomas for following strict environmental guidelines. Gothia Towers, located in the heart of Gothenburg, is the largest hotel in Europe and this huge structure has an eco-first outlook that keeps its carbon emissions to a minimum.
5. Helsinki, Finland
Helsinki in Finland is a place where the approach to sustainable tourism starts from the ground up, with endless initiatives across the city joined in a mission to make Helsinki a leading example of sustainable innovation.
There is an off-grid wooden village named ‘Majamaja’ coming in 2021 promising a holistic approach with a minimized environmental footprint that allows you to reconnect with nature. Several hotels in the Helsinki city center also provide excellent eco-friendly options.
6. Ko Phi Phi, Thailand
Ko Phi Phi is a group of six small islands off the west coast of Thailand and has been the focus of environmental efforts for several years. You probably saw Maya Bay in the movie ‘The Beach’ (1999) directed by Danny Boyle starring Leonardo DiCaprio, based on a novel written by Alex Garland. The place suffered terrible damage due to unsustainable, restriction-free tourism.
Eventually, the Thai government took the controversial step of closing the beach to tourists and the decision seems to be successful with marine life returning to the area.
7. Chumbe Island, Tanzania
Chumbe Island is a private nature reserve and is home to a Forest Reserve and a fully protected Coral Reef Sanctuary where tourists can snorkel with hundreds of reef fish and rare wildlife species. There are beautiful eco bungalows that are run sustainably without impacting the environment through innovative efforts like composting toilets, solar water heating, and the utilization of rainwater.
8. Whistler, British Columbia
Whistler is an exceptional Skiing Resort in British Columbia, Canada, trying its best with an ambitious goal of being carbon neutral by 2030. The initiative started in 2000, and since then the resort has reduced waste by over 70 percent. And, since 2009, hydroelectricity has powered the resort’s snow cannons, restaurants, hotels, and ski lifts. Canada’s Partners for Climate Protection recognized Whistler as the first community in the country to complete its 5 milestones toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
While visiting this eco-tourism destination, you can use the area’s extensive off-street trail system to bike in summer or cross-country ski in winter. Apart from skiing you can also do hiking, bear watching or explore a beautiful tree top walk.
9. Åsnen, Sweden
Situated in the south of Sweden, Åsnen Lake is home to an archipelago of more than one thousand islands. As a national park and nature destination, the local people are serious about conserving the flora and fauna of Åsnen.
The locals safeguard the sensitive birdlife and during particular months of the year, tourists are prohibited from traveling to certain areas in order to protect breeding birds. The locals and visitors are urged to treat the land and waters as gently as possible and stay on designated footpaths, trails, canoeing paths, and camping areas.
10. Galapagos National Park, Ecuador
The Galapagos Islands became the world’s first UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site in 1979. The surrounding waters are more than 95% protected under the status of conservation. The flora and fauna aren’t off-limits to travelers.
You will have to pay a visitation fee that goes towards the Galapagos National Park’s preservation efforts on reaching the place. The park closely regulates tours and itineraries so that there are visitor caps for protected areas.
While traveling, sustainability should be at the forefront of our minds. To ensure our world’s cities, parks, air, and waters are still accessible to future generations, it’s important that we don’t consider travel “instagramability” above all else while deciding our next vacation destination.