Travel expands the mind. It fills the heart and lifts the soul. But only if it’s done with great sensitivity towards sustainability. We hear the word sustainability often. But how does it actually relate to travel? According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), sustainable tourism “takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment, and host communities.”
To better understand what the concept is all about, here are five sustainable travel destinations considered by experts as its gold standard.
1. Coron, Palawan
The Philippines has more than 7,000 islands. Some of the best are found in Coron, Palawan. In this town, pristine islets, unspoiled diving sites, and enthralling lakes await even the most seasoned travelers.
But more than its natural charm, Coron boasts of something even more laudable. That is the town’s commitment to sustainable tourism. These efforts are spearheaded by The Coron Initiative.
One of the key goals of The Coron Initiative is “to promote social responsibility and environmental integrity.” That is while supporting the town’s continued growth as a premier travel destination.
To cite an example, while there are 13 lakes within Coron town, only two are open to the public: Kayangan and Barracuda. The local indigenous tribe, Coron Tagbanuas, considers the remaining lakes as sacred sites, hence they are off-limits.
2. Chumbe Island Coral Park, Tanzania
Tanzania does not always appear in lists featuring the world’s must-see diving sites. And this ought to change.
Located off the coast of the semi-autonomous region of Zanzibar, Chumbe Island is privately owned and managed. In 1991, the Chumbe Island Coral Park Ltd. (CHICOP) was established. Its goal is to run the island park in line with progressive ecotourism practices.
Within the Chumbe Island sanctuary, destructive activities such as fishing are strictly prohibited. This allows the reef system’s 474 fish species to thrive freely. On top of protecting its marine ecosystem, CHICOP manages Chumbe Island with the utmost respect for the local community’s indigenous rights.
3. Rolante, Brazil
Rolante, Brazil made it to Green Destination’s Top 100 Destinations for 2020. This stamp of approval means that this municipality is doing things right when it comes to sustainability.
The Local Economic Development Program of Rolante envisions a future that vastly improves the quality of life in the Paranhana Valley. This project seeks to advance local entrepreneurship and homegrown trade. Rolante touts Experience Tourism, where nature takes center stage, and tourists act as mere participants enjoying the show.
Come for the wine and mountain and waterfalls. Stay for the peace of mind you get from sharing in something with the best of intentions.
4. Bled, Slovenia
Slovenia takes pride in the quality of its potable water. Purportedly, the sweetest and most refreshing in the world. That’s not surprising given how Slovenia’s also known as “the land of lakes,” home to 321 “jezero.”
Perhaps the most popular of these is Lake Bled. Here watercraft that run on fuel is prohibited. That is to ensure tranquil lake traffic at all times.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Bled’s sustainability efforts. Since 2011, Bled has been a proactive member of the Alpine Pearls. This organization brings together a network of Alpine tourist spots that share the vision of carbon footprint reduction.
Other noteworthy programs include the city’s public drinking fountains, bike-sharing system, and 38 electric car filling stations. Now, the city hosts countless electric cars with parts made from advanced injection molding techniques that are hopefully environmentally-friendly as well.
5. Republic of Palau
Palau favors quality over quantity. The republic’s tourism goals have rightly shifted from attracting a mass of travelers to welcoming visitors of value. Upon entry to Palau, visitors must sign a passport pledge, where they commit to adhering to the country’s environmental preservation efforts. That’s a clever way to enlist the support of travelers and give them a sense of accountability.
That strategy’s only logical given how Palau has 5,000 years of tradition to protect. That is on top of a marine sanctuary that encompasses 80% of the country’s water territory. Yes, there’s so much to lose without imposing strict environmental measures.
There are ways to make traveling even more fulfilling. For instance, globetrotting with the consciousness of an ecotourist. Doing so will spare you from coming home with immense guilt from leaving behind a significant carbon footprint.
If you wish for your next travel destination to be as green as possible, why not visit one of the places mentioned in our list? Surely you’ll have an exquisite time.