As I’ve been learning in my Sustainable Tourism class here on O’ahu, sustainable travel isn’t just a trendy buzzword, and it’s not just about the natural environment. Sustainability also includes the local economy, the culture, heritage sites, groups, and events. Creating a resilient tourism industry allows a country to continue thriving while also gaining the benefits of having visitors contribute to the economy and the culture.
For travelers like myself, sustainable travel is becoming a way of life that ensures a win/win for economies and ecosystems alike. Fortunately, more and more countries are taking measures to improve their environmental impact and cultural preservation. Here in Hawai’i, there are ongoing efforts to keep Hawaiian cultural traditions alive, to keep beaches and natural sites clean, and to limit the number of visitors who visit fragile sites like coral reefs.
The goal behind sustainable travel is to protect and preserve the areas we love to visit, so they continue to thrive.
Tourism can have a negative impact on local environments and communities, which can ultimately create problems for residents and lead to a decline in tourism for an area.
Besides choosing a sustainable travel destination, there are also other ways that you can help, like choosing to partake in eco-friendly activities during your trip and avoiding certain activities that harm animals.
As you’re making your travel plans for 2020, consider traveling to a country that’s protecting its people, places, and environment. There are so many amazing choices!
I’ve rounded up five of the most sustainable travel destinations for 2020 to help you make your plans for the year.
5 Sustainable Travel Destinations for 2020
With more than 25% of the country dedicated to protected rainforests, Costa Rica is a strong example of a sustainable travel destination. Its land homes 5% of the planet’s biodiversity, and local governments are dedicated to protecting their country’s most precious resources.
More than 90% of the country’s energy comes from renewable resources. They have a goal to become the world’s first carbon-neutral country by 2020.
Bhutan’s restrictions on tourism have made it a very sustainable place to travel. To control the influx of travelers and avoid becoming a commodity destination, Bhutan requires travelers to be accompanied by an approved tour operator. These tour guides are in charge of all travel arrangements and help curb the impact of tourism on the country.
In addition, a sizable portion of each traveler’s daily tariff goes directly to sustainability efforts.
The small European country of Slovenia ranks high in biodiversity and environmental protection. Its capital city, Ljubljana, has been named Europe’s greenest capital and is quickly moving towards being a zero waste city.
Environmental issues for the Maldives are a major concern, given their unique archipelago layout and vulnerability to the elements. But it’s these characteristics that are enabling them to become one of the most eco-friendly travel destinations.
Each hotel resort is essentially its own island, operating independently in terms of generating electricity and water. The government has also mandated that at least 30% of energy must be generated using renewable resources.
This last one may surprise you, since tourists flock to Iceland to see the fjords and northern lights in droves, but sustainability remains a top priority throughout the country. Iceland is a global leader in greenhouse gas reduction, geothermal and hydro energy. They’ve also set a lofty goal to be completely free of fossil fuel use by 2050.
Where will sustainable travel take you in 2020?