As sustainability in tourism has gained an immense popularity in recent years, it can often feel difficult to find recommended, certified travel destinations amongst the waves of greenwashing in marketing. It is always advisable to do research before embarking on eco friendly travel, in order to find these sustainably certified travel destinations and activities. In order to assist travellers in their search to find genuine information regarding destinations and sustainability, we seek to share information regarding sought after certifications where real information can be obtained.
Green Destinations, which is a certification body for sustainable travel destinations, releases an annual list of the top sustainable 100 destinations. Each year, destinations around the globe vie for an opportunity to be included on this list.
What is the criteria for listing?
According to Green Destinations, there are 30 core sustainability criteria from their own standard which nominations are based upon. Along with the list of criteria which must be fulfilled as well as the ‘Good Practice’ written story of destination sustainability, all nominated destinations must provide an exhaustive amount of evidence regarding their sustainable practices as well as being judged by an international panel of experts before the selection of this list of eco friendly travel destinations.
The category areas which are focused on the story of sustainability for the nominated destinations are as follows:
- Culture & Communities
- Environment & Climate
- Nature & Ecotourism
- Islands & Seaside
- Any of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
- Immediate responses in dealing with the Covid-19 crisis
- Preparing for a smart and sustainable post Covid-19 recovery
A few of the listed destinations
Shirakawa Village in Japan
Nominated in the Culture & Communities category, Shirakawa Village is a World Heritage site in Japan. This mountain settlement is part of Mt. Haku National Park where one can go with a goal of appreciating nature alongside an amazing traditional culture. This mountainous area destination has a sharp focus on the preservation of its traditional culture, alongside efforts to maintain the population of the area and contribute to the populace in order to maintain the way of life.
Port Douglas Daintree in Australia
Nominated in the category of Culture & Communities, Port Douglas Daintree, in Australia is an eco friendly travel destination which has a variety of natural areas to enjoy such as the ability to trekk in the rainforest within the same hour as one can swim at the great barrier reef. This travel destination has a strong focus on preserving the local culture, contributing to small local communities and preservation of the natural areas.
Hoek van Holland in the Netherlands
Hoek van Holland, or the Hook of Holland has a rich local history which attracts many visitors annually. This nomination scored highest in the social wellbeing section with 8,8 out of 10. As an area high sustainability area which consists of green certified accommodation, parks, trails and bicycling paths it has been recognised for years by receiving multiple quality marks and sustainable certification. It is said that the area continues to increase their sustainability efforts by undertaking additional initiatives such as beach waste separation and ways to further preserve the local history while respecting nature.
Bonaire in the Dutch Caribbean
Nominated for its contribution to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the Dutch Caribbean Island of Bonaire has a sustainability focus on the preservation of nature and marine life. For more than two decades, the Island of Bonaire has received first place for Shore Diving Destination in the Caribbean/Atlantic with Scuba Diving Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards listing. The island takes its local population seriously and is working to preserve the rich local culture of its peoples while counteracting the effects of over-tourism with a more sustainable and earth-friendly approach to marine tourism.
Galapagos Islands in Ecuador
This destination’s nomination fit every category but mainly the focus of Island & Seaside,the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador are a world heritage site consisting of 19 islands which have become commonly known as ‘a unique living museum and showcase of evolution’. As an approximated 98% of its land area is under protected status, it’s no small wonder that this area rich with amazing wildlife on both land and in the sea, is on this list. As such, the area has become a model for the practices of sustainable ecological development.
Dark Sky Alqueva in Portugal
Nominated in Environment & Climate / Nature & Ecotourism categories, the Dark Sky Alqueva reserve in Portugal is a destination for starlight tourism. Stargazing has been a favoured activity throughout the ages and is an activity which can be engaged in for both amateurs and professionals alike. Dark Sky Alqueva is well-known for its breathtaking views in the starry nighttime sky and their two missions of protecting the night sky (no light pollution) and further developing astrotourism travel destinations using a sustainable development model , help to make this a top pick for the Green Destinations list this year. Read more about stargazing as a sustainable activity here.
When travelling and researching sustainable destinations and activities, it is always advisable to select the destinations, tour companies and accommodations which have been certified by one of the recognised authorities. This list, and the green destinations certification is considered to be a highly sought-after recognition of sustainability status and can therefore help the traveller to feel more at ease with making a good choice for eco friendly travel.
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