As the world is on the brink of opening up for travel again, you may be making mood-boosting plans for a 2021 break. One trend which was already emerging before the pandemic struck is set to continue. Sustainable, or eco-tourism, is becoming more popular as holidaymakers are keen to minimise their environmental footprint.
The Travel Foundation defines the aims of sustainable tourism in the following way: tourist locations which protect natural environments and wildlife, celebrate and conserve heritage and culture, and create socio-economic benefits for communities. Put simply, it is about increasing the benefits and reducing the negative impacts of tourism.
You might be wondering how to chose your holiday location in this new era of re-imagined travel. The National Geographic has recently published a list of the best sustainable tourist destinations for 2021 and beyond. Here’s a quick guide to some of their recommendations.
For a city break, their top pick is Copenhagen, the capital city of Denmark. It is set to become the world’s first carbon-neutral capital by 2021. It has an efficient public transport network powered by electric buses, and cycle paths which have resulted in the city having 5 times more bicycles than cars.
Helsinki is very much on board with sustainability, and its tourist board runs the Think Sustainably microsite which is packed with useful information. It informs us that the Loyly sauna is heated by an energy efficient wood-burning programme. It also highlights the many sustainable-friendly places where you can dine, shop, and even rent merchandise.
This is a group of islands in the southwest Pacific Ocean, about 900 miles off Australia’s east coast. It is a French territory which was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008. New Caledonia’s lagoons represent some of the last unspoilt coral reef in the world, and are home to over 9,000 marine species.
The Government has created the 500,000-square-mile Coral Sea Natural Park. Fishing, sports, and large passenger boats are widely banned, and some areas are only accessible for scientific research. Eco-tourism is also actively promoted inland.
Gabon is a remote country on the west coast of Central Africa, with 13 national parks which are rich in unspoilt natural wildlife. 80% of its landmass is dense forest, which are inhabited by endangered lowland gorillas. It also has rivers and coastline, home to rare turtles and whales, which are opening up for tourism in a strictly regulated fashion.
Alonissos is a Greek Island in the Aegean Sea, and in 1992 the Alonnisos Marine Park was created to protect the sea life. Recently, it has also become the site of Greece’s first underwater museum, as the remains of the ancient Peristera ship were made accessible to divers.
The fascinating historical relic is known as the ‘Parthenon of shipwrecks’, and is thought to hold a cargo of wine jars from Athens dating back to the fifth century B.C. It is largely in tact, and tours are available for divers capable of reaching depths of 80ft or more. Otherwise, you can view a virtual reality tour from the visitor centre.
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