Bitten by the travel bug but looking to travel consciously?
Eco-travel is the way forward. Tourism produces 5% of the world's carbon emissions, but the $1.5 trillion made by the travel industry is crucial for sustainable, eco-friendly tourism. So what exactly is eco-friendly tourism?
According to the International Ecotourism Society, it's “responsible travel to natural areas that conserve the environment, sustain well-being, and involve interpretation and education”. Essentially travelling whilst ensuring economic stability, development, and the conservation of natural and cultural heritage to any given destination.
If you want to travel guilt free, here are some of the go-to green destinations you need to be touching down in:
Tanzania is probably not one that springs to mind when thinking about green countries, but responsible tourism has become more and more popular here especially in the Serengeti. You can now find a number of really great eco-friendly safari options and accommodation. But if you go a little further off the beaten track you can find the ultimate ecotourism experience – on Chumbe Island. The Tanzanian island is located off the coast of Zanzibar and is privately owned by a non-profit specializing in marine life conservation and ecotourism. A small number of tourists are let on to the island every year to experience its unparalleled beauty. The coral reef just off of the island is one of the most bio diverse and best-conserved reefs in the world.
NEW ZEALANDNew Zealand is one of the greenest countries and widely recognized for having the most unique landscape in the world – oftentimes making you feel like you have just ventured to the far reaches of Earth. Part of that has to do with the fact that all of the country’s wilderness feels wholly untouched and unspoiled. Regardless of if you’re visiting the Northern Island, the Southern Island, or both – you’re in for a trip of a lifetime! You can experience the local wildlife (from bird or whale watching to ethically-run zoos), see glow worms in action, and even take some time to visit a farm to see where your food is coming from. And bonus – New Zealand is one of the only places in the world where you can see the Southern Lights!
SINGAPOREIf you’re wanting to go on a city-based holiday, but still want your trip to be classed as responsible tourism, Singapore is the perfect compromise. This city-state and island country is a green destination like no other. You can have all of the luxuries of a metropolitan holiday – shopping, fine dining, sightseeing – while keeping nature close. In fact, there’s a primary rainforest within Singapore’s city limits and green zones cover over 50% of the island to date
It may come as a surprise that Rwanda is one of the cleanest and greenest countries not only in Africa but in the world! In recent decades, the Rwandan government has taken an extremely proactive approach to sustainability – from banning plastic bags to instating a monthly nation-wide cleanup day. The tourism bureau has a unique approach to attracting visitors – they are not looking for massive amounts of tourists, but the RIGHT tourists! People who are just as interested in protecting and improving the Rwandan environment as they are. This gives priority to tourist activities that are passionate about wildlife conservation and wilderness protection.
NETHERLANDSIt may come as a surprise that Rwanda is one of the cleanest and greenest countries not only in Africa but in the world! In recent decades, the Rwandan government has taken an extremely proactive approach to sustainability – from banning plastic bags to instating a monthly nation-wide cleanup day. The tourism bureau has a unique approach to attracting visitors – they are not looking for massive amounts of tourists, but the RIGHT tourists! People who are just as interested in protecting and improving the Rwandan environment as they are. This gives priority to tourist activities that are passionate about wildlife conservation and wilderness protection.
BOTSWANAFor all you wildlife lovers, this is THE green go-to for you. Offering some of the most epic wildlife watching opportunities in Africa, (40% of Africa’s entire elephant population) Botswana is home to a heap of lodges which provide conscious safari experiences, with 38% of Botswana’s total land area devoted to national parks, reserves and wildlife management areas. As well as conserving and protecting the region, the reserves create jobs for locals, imperative to the economy and livelihoods. The country uses solar-powered boats and electrical vehicles for game viewing, with the aim to offer guests a totally emission-free, carbon-free game viewing experience. Eco lodges, solar lighting and recycled water are also on the up in this wildlife paradise.
Finland and Iceland seem to switch back and forth between who is the greenest country. Their rankings are very closely matched year after year. According to the Environmental Performance Index (EPI), Finland ranks high on its “societal commitment to reaching carbon neutrality by 2050.” It has also continued to score high on its dedication to water and sanitation, as well as biodiversity and habitat conservation. Finland is home to 40 national parks, a population of almost 200,000 reindeer, and over 1,000 species of flowering plants. It is the most forested country in all of Europe.
Thanks to its sunny climates, rich culture, exotic foods and very affordable prices, is it any surprise Vietnam is such a hot spot to visit right now? And this county isn’t just a pretty face; its protected national parks, incredible coral reefs and one of the largest lagoons in the world, make it an eco-tourism gold mine. Best Sapa Biking Tour, Best Ha Giant Trekking Tour, Cao Son Eco-Adventure and Babe National Park Tour and Meking Biking Tour are some of the incredible eco activities Vietnam has on offer.
Located at the southern end of South America and bordered by Argentina and Chile, Patagonia offers up some serious nature heavy weights in the forms of glaciers, lakes and snow-capped mountains galore, with Torres del Paine National Park potentially taking the crown. Azure lakes, trails that meander through forests, rivers and one giant blue glacier together form one of the most unspoilt places on earth, and a designated Unesco biosphere reserve to boot. Trekking or horseback are the two recommended ways to explore this natural ecosystem without doing damage to the land
A regular at the top of any travellers bucket list, Peru is about way more than just Machu Picchu. Dense in flora and fauna, Peru homes around 25,000 plant species, approximately 30% of which is found only
in Peru. The Manu Biosphere Reserve, the Tambopata National Reserve, and the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve are three of the largest protected rainforest areas in the world, all situated within the county’s lush landscape. The government regulates entry of tour groups into these areas, however deforestation is still a battle the country is battling with.