What is Eco-friendly Tourism?
Eco-friendly travel according to the International Ecotourism Society is “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-beings and involves interpretation and education”. In this article we are sharing with you the 9 most eco-friendly destinations to add to your wish list.
Essentially ecotourism is ensuring that communities in the travel destinations receive a fair share of revenue from the tourism trade.
As places around the world begin to disappear forever due to environmental changes, ecotourism is becoming more popular and important than ever. Ecotourism destinations not only allow travelers to see some of the most extreme and beautiful natural wonders around the world, they also ensure that travelers do so responsibly.
Often, the money pumped into an economy by tourists is then put back into preserving and conserving its natural environment — in other words, everybody wins.
What is The Most Eco-friendly?
1) Costa Rica
We’re kicking this list off with a country that is renowned for it’s eco-friendly practices! The Costa Rican government makes protecting the biodiversity in their neck of the woods a huge priority. And if you’re looking to visit Costa Rica for this reason, you should definitly visit the OSA Peninsula!
There are few places in the world where you’ll have access to such diverse wilderness. It’s a wild, tropical paradise that is off the beaten path, yet still tourist-friendly and eco-conscious. All of the guided tours, activities and accommodations available to you are run with low impact on the environment and with positive income on the communities in the area.
You can relax knowing that your incredible holiday to the Osa Peninsula will not be at the expense of your surroundings!
Slovenia is undoubtedly one of Europe’s hidden gems. The Slovenian government has made eco-tourism its first mission, its primary to them to protect their country’s pristine lands while expanding their tourism sector. And if their three consecutive years of winning the European Destination of Excellence Awards is any indicator, they’re doing a great job!
If you love the outdoors and a chance to get closer to nature, Slovenia is the perfect place for you! There are glaciers, caves, beaches, and lakes (one of which is the world famous Lake Bled) galore. You can tour these areas – as well as partake in outdoor adventure sports – knowing that the best practices for sustainability are in place.
3) New Zealand
New Zealand is widely recognized for having the most unique landscape in the world – oftentimes making you feel like you’ve not just ventured to the far reaches of Earth, but beyond. Part of that has to do with the fact that all of the country’s wilderness feels wholly untouched and unspoiled. Perfect place as eco friendly destinations.
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!
Kenya is known for its incredible safari due to its grasslands full of animals such as giraffes, lions, and rhinos. However, the country has more to offer than that, with beaches, coral reefs, and mountains as well. Such varied landscapes means that Kenya has a lot of biodiversity, especially of birds.
Though the country has lost many animals to illegal poaching, organizations within the country have done their best to make sure travelers respect the ecosystem.
Next eco friendly destinations is Palau, an island nation in the western Pacific that is part of Micronesia. It’s known more for its oceans than for its land. Off the coast is a beautiful, crystal blue sea home to coral reefs and hundreds of species of fish. On shore, the country has diverse forests and untouched beaches.
The country has dedicated itself to preserving such beautiful landscapes by making much of its reefs no-fishing zones. Additionally, the Palau Project, part of Blue Planet United, brings university students to Palau to learn about the island, makes documentary films about the country and supports ecotourism.
Iceland is a hot-button destination right now – it seems like everyone we know has either already been or really wants to go to Iceland (including us!). If you look to the past as an indicator, many countries sustain a heavy blow to their environment and ecology when their tourism industry takes off.
This is not the case in Iceland, though! They’ve taken huge precautions to make sure that everyone coming to visit their country will have the time of their lives without having it be a detriment to their surroundings.
As ‘MyNatour puts it’, Iceland’s got all it needs to ensure sustainability – “a cooperative government, like-minded citizens, vast and stunning landscapes, pure water sources, exceptional wildlife, and an overall commitment to the conservation of nature.”
Since tourism in Iceland has only really taken off in the last decade, you ca, be sure that your accommodation will be modern and eco-friendly. This is because properties offering sustainable accommodations are rewarded if they have awesome sustainability and environmental consciousness levels.
And there are plenty of eco-friendly activities to do while there – from hot springs to wildlife tours to ice hiking and trekking. There is something for every kind of eco-tourist here!
Nestled at the far east end of the Himalayas, this country is still a bit of a mystery to the outside world. You’re only allowed into the country if you book through an official tour company – which means that you’re paying the price… But if you’re willing to shell out a bit extra in order to visit one of the world’s literal greenest countries (with 70% of its land covered by forest), it’ll be totally worth it. Especially since Bhutan is the only country in the world that measures their prosperity in Gross National Happiness. And yes, that’s a real thing!
8) Amazon Forest
The Amazon has already extremely suffered from climate change and the encroachment of men, but some areas around the huge forest are aiming to change that by having native become guides to lead tourists around the forests in ways that are sustainable and even promote the health of the ecosystem.
Indonesia is not yet fully aware about the environmentally-friendly tourism issue as there are still illegal lodging and deforestation in some parts of its area related to economic pressure as well as the lack of enforcement mechanisms.
But some parts of Indonesia have already responded positively to this eco friendly tourism issue because they see a growing demand worldwide on it.
The concept of ecotourism is emerging and it just need more time for this developing country to realize the concepts and the benefits for the local people and environment.
Indonesia took time to really understand how important it is to really protect its land and that ecotourism could represent a new challenge for them, and then an opportunity. Some places such as Bali, Komodo Island, Lombok, Borneo, Sumatra and Raja Ampat are worth a visit as they are still maintaining a balanced relationship between tourism and the environment. And other initiatives are set up in other islands. Eco-tourism is on its way of developing in Indonesia!
How Can We Travel Greener?
Visiting pristine beaches and untouched natural wonders are popular for Western tourists, but it is important to pointed out that these destinations are also the ones that suffer the most from tourism as they are simply not equipped for it.
The first step is to choose a local tour operator or accurate information about the destination. This will allow you to choose wisely where and what destination you can visit in an eco-friendly manner.
Travel with people who have a knowledge and understanding about sustainability.
Volunteering is also a great way to explore countries whilst helping.
To find more information, consult our code of conduct in our sustainable-policy page!