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The climate crisis is huge news and ecotourism has become a buzzword in international travel. As we see the impact of global warming, more people are turning to sustainable travel.
And while travel is criticised as a major player in climate change, it’s also not realistic to ditch our holidays completely. In fact – many countries rely on tourism to thrive!
With that said, ecotourism is the future of travel, and there are things we can do to tread lightly and travel more sustainably!
What are ecotourism destinations?
In general, ecotourism is all about responsible travel – whether that’s choosing sustainable transport, participating in conservation work or contributing to local communities.
Likewise, it could involve opting for eco-hotels, hiring local guides, choosing less touristy destinations or offsetting your carbon emissions.
Another way to be a green traveller is to support ecotourism destinations. These are the places that are more aligned with sustainability and have practices in place that make it easier for tourists to be eco-friendly.
Ecotourism destinations are destinations that are doing great things to protect the environment.
And, after all, where we spend our money matters – so isn’t it best to support the places that are prioritising the planet and making a positive impact?
If you’re interested in booking a green getaway, here are some of the best ecotourism destinations and what you can expect during your trip…
6 best ecotourism destinations
1 Costa Rica
Costa Rica is first on the list for good reason – this is a country that’s been a pioneer of sustainability for many years. Over 25% of the land in Costa Rica is protected by the government and it’s a destination that’s committed to becoming carbon neutral.
If you’ve ever visited Costa Rica (or Googled it), you’ll know this is a country that’s abundant in wildlife. It’s a picture-perfect destination that’s overflowing with natural beauty.
With such a flourishing and diverse ecosystem, it’s really no surprise that care has been taken to protect it with national parks, conservation areas and nature reserves aplenty.
Costa Rica is a tropical paradise and offers visitors so much to see and do; from volcano trekking, jungle zip-lining and wildlife watching to surfing. The country is also known for its eco-rainforest lodges and wellness retreats, which are perfect if you want a peaceful back-to-nature vacation!
A small nation in Micronesia, Palau is everything you’d imagine from a Pacific island paradise with pristine beaches lapped by crystal waters.
As one of the best ecotourism destinations, Palau is all about preserving the ocean. Miles of coral reef around its islands have been declared no-fishing zones and it’s also home to a 600,000-square-kilometre shark sanctuary.
Plus, the sale and use of toxic sunscreen have been banned to help in the fight against coral bleaching.
Palau is also the first country to have changed its immigration laws to benefit the environment. This means that if you visit, you have to sign a passport pledge declaring that you’ll act responsibly while on the island. This is monitored with policies in place to keep nature protected.
3 New Zealand
While New Zealand is long journey from the UK, it’s a country that cares passionately about the environment with many great initiatives in place. So if you’re a Brit travelling to New Zealand, your flight won’t be eco-friendly – but your time in the country can be more sustainable!
New Zealand boasts some of the world’s most impressive scenery with beaches, volcanoes and hot springs in the North and mountains, lakes and fjords in the South.
Much of its land is national parks, forests or reserves so a trip to New Zealand will, without doubt, have a big focus on nature.
Thanks to its Māori culture and low population density, there’s a lot of respect for the environment and natural world in New Zealand.
And, in terms of ecotourism, New Zealand’s government has signed a Zero Carbon bill which means that the country’s greenhouse emissions will be near neutral by 2050.
Another ecotourism destination that flaunts beautiful remote landscapes is Iceland.
As one of the best ecotourism destinations, Iceland is the cleanest energy consumer in the world with much of its energy coming from renewable sources. The government also has aims to be carbon neutral by 2040 and fossil fuel free by 2050.
But, more than that, in Iceland, sustainability is a way of life – so much so that sustainability is a key part of the national curriculum at schools.
And it’s no surprise that locals would want to preserve their land – Iceland is known world-over for its natural wonders. The Northern Lights, hot springs and incredible waterfalls are all a huge draw.
Although Iceland is a country that’s been subject to overtourism in recent years, it’s still on the list thanks to these eco credentials. And, if you travel off-peak and invest in local businesses, Iceland can still be a great destination.
If you visit, you’ll find a host of eco hotels to choose from, too. You could also opt for camping if you’re feeling extra adventurous!
If a safari is on your bucket list, you’ll be pleased to know that Kenya is another of the best ecotourism destinations!
We all know the issues that many African countries are facing when it comes to wildlife. Poaching is rife and many species are on the verge of extinction. There are also the issues of deforestation and climate change that are quickly destroying the environment and impacting lives.
With this in mind, Kenya has policies in place to tackle some of the issues. Namely, the country has over 50 national parks and reserves (including the famous Maasai Mara) and all are protected areas to keep wildlife truly wild.
Its wildlife conservancies are also great for the local community and promote the coexistence between people and planet.
In Kenya, there are also tough bans on single-use plastic bags with huge fines (and even prison sentences) for using them. There’s also a crackdown on single-use plastic in protected areas, which means many lodges and resorts are entirely plastic-free.
On top of this, plenty of the best hotels and safari camps focus on solar and renewable energy for power.
Not only is Bhutan a seriously beautiful place to visit, but it’s also the world’s first carbon-negative country. Here, sustainability is built into its identity and, with its predominantly Buddhist culture, there’s a big focus on the natural world.
Before the 1970s, this Himalayan kingdom had closed borders, preferring to keep itself isolated from the rest of the world.
Since then, travel has become possible but there are restrictions in place to keep visitor levels controlled and to ensure profits go back to the local communities.
If you visit, you’ll have to pay a sustainable development fee which goes towards protecting the country. This includes preserving its traditions, heritage and environment, as well as supporting healthcare and education.
As a sacred country (and a real sanctuary) you’ll feel transported back in time. In fact – the first modern roads were only built in the 60s and its capital city doesn’t have traffic lights!
With much of the kingdom covered in protected forest, you can be sure of a magical getaway. You’ll also be able to immerse yourself in the Buddhist way of life so it’s sure to be a transformational experience.
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Being able to travel the world is a blessing. But, with the challenges the planet is facing, we should try to play our part and choose to travel as mindfully as possible. If we support the destinations that care, we can turn our holidays into an even more rewarding experience!