The Best Destinations for Sustainable Travel by

When it comes to sustainability, travel can feel like a double-edged sword. On one hand, exploring the world helps to cultivate empathy towards new cultures and can lead to radical change. On the other, the potential emissions from hopping on a plane and touring around a destination is at odds with a cleaner planet. This is why there’s no silver bullet solution to making travel more sustainable—it’s nuanced.

“When talking about a sustainable destination, different factors come into play,” explains Roi Ariel, General Manager at The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), an organization that sets global standards for sustainability in travel and tourism. “The management teams at destinations considered sustainable understand that ‘sustainability’ is a journey that is never complete.” Therefore, a dynamic approach is surely the way forward, with considerations stretching from sustainable management and socioeconomic implications to cultural and environmental impacts.

“I think what makes a hotel obviously sustainable from a guest perspective is conscious communication regarding all their initiatives to make their operations more sustainable,” says Few & Far co-founder Sarah Dusek, adding that “if a hotel isn’t talking about their initiatives, chances are they don’t have any.” There are baseline considerations that should already be put in place, such as minimizing (or eliminating) single-use plastics and the implementation of eco-friendly products such as soaps and cleaning products. “Conscious connection with sourcing of food is something I also expect to see,” Dusek says, noting the more local the better. Energy efficiencies and waste management strategies are also paramount, she notes, and often incorporate alternate, innovative sources such as solar power.

More broadly speaking, we can look to entire regions as sustainable travel destinations that prioritize conscientious tourism simply by checking for accreditations, like the GSTC certification. “Türkiye for example, has taken a big step towards sustainability as a destination,” Ariel says, noting that the country has developed the first mandatory national program for accommodations based on the GSTC Criteria. “From 2023 through 2030, all accommodations in Türkiye must be certified through a GSTC-Accredited Certification Body.”

Keeping these complexities in mind, scroll below to explore eight unique sustainable travel destinations this year, from biodiverse Costa Rica to the remote arctic shorelines of Norway.

Bawah Reserve, Indonesia

The Best Destinations for Sustainable Travel by

Six islands, 13 beaches, three lagoons, and 100 hectares of lush forest comprise the remote Anambas Islands situated in the South China Sea. Bawah is the first island in Indonesia to be powered by a renewable microgrid and is also certified as a five-star resort under the Singing Blue WWF program. Guests who journey to the otherworldly reserve can witness the property’s 18 floating solar platforms (enough to service most of the island’s energy needs) and can dine at the restaurants with produce that comes from their own permaculture vegetable and herb gardens. 98 percent of Bawah Reserve’s employees come from Indonesia and each month, their so-called ‘ECOmmittee’ strategizes on initiatives ranging from turtle conservation to beach clean-ups.

Rwanda, Africa

The Best Destinations for Sustainable Travel by

For the ultimate bucket list adventure that slots in well with sustainability-focused travel, gorilla trekking in Rwanda ranks high on the list. The country is already well-regarded for its commitment to conservation and responsible tourism, and Dusek’s Few & Far itinerary supports rural communities in the Masai Mara in Kenya as well as rural female empowerment through female tracking, guiding, and porter teams. While on the trip, guests will also be introduced to the Mara Conservancy Canine Anti-Poaching Unit to learn about how their trip supports the company’s mission.

Peninsula Papagayo, Costa Rica

The Best Destinations for Sustainable Travel by

Costa Rica has long been a leader in sustainable tourism, having set goals to be the first carbon neutral country in the world and producing nearly 93 percent of its electricity from renewable resources. Peninsula Papagayo is located in the northwestern province of Guanacaste and is home to one of the largest dry tropical forests in Central America. The 1,400-acre resort community is hyper-focused on sustainability, with a committee structure made up of six different entities. While initiatives range—from opening a child care clinic to conservation of archaeological sites—their home gardens project (huertas caseras) is especially of note; it empowers local families to grow vegetables and legumes on their own land using drip irrigation (a necessity due to the uniquely dry climate), also supplying produce for the restaurants at properties like the Four Seasons Resort Peninsula Papagayo, Costa Rica.

Continue reading the original article in by Nicole Kliest here: