Sustainable Travel - 10 Eco-Friendly Destinations for 2020

The threat of climate change and global warming is ever on our minds, traveling responsibly is becoming more and more of a priority. So what sustainable travel destination should you consider visiting in 2020 to keep your conscience green?

The 2019 Sustainable Top 100 list was revealed on October 10th at the Global Green Destinations Days (GGDD) on the Island of Mali Lošinj in Croatia. The yearly Top 100 competition is jury-evaluated sustainability performance based on 15-30 core criteria of the Green Destinations Standard and a full Indicator report. You can find the full list here: http://sustainabletop100.org/

Here are the top 10 ‘best of’ to inspire your sustainable travels in 2020.

LJUBLJANA (SLOVENIA) – BEST OF CITIES

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A beautiful, vibrant, clean and safe Slovenian capital, Ljubljana has a green soul. During the last years the capital of Slovenia has been putting lots of efforts to become a city with high environmental standards offering its residents as well as visitors a wide number of green areas. And the city center has been car-free for over 10 years.

Ljubljana is a fairy tale-like city, filled with history and culture, offering visitors a unique variety of activities and attractions ranging from sightseeing tours via paddleboards down the Lubianica River to learning about the rich Slovenian tradition of beekeeping on guided be trail tours. Hop on the free buses and get lost in one of the numerous galleries.

And make sure to pack a big appetite. In Ljubljana, arguably the main sustainable attraction is decidedly the food. Locally grown ingredients and recipes characterize the delicious gastronomy. Bon appetit!

GOZO (MALTA) – BEST OF COMMUNITIES & CULTURE

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Malta is a stunning country - a little archipelago in the central Mediterranean, tucked right in-between Sicily and the North African coast. Gozo, one of three inhabited islands of the island group Malta, can be distinguished from the latter by its green nature, rustic atmosphere and its local identity.

Beautiful beaches such as Ramla Bay, San Blas Bay, and more touristy Paradise Bay, welcome you in for a dip, with the water qualified as “Excellent”. Also refreshing is that most of the local food and dishes in Gozo are 100% organic.

If you’re a diver, take the plunge in Gozo’s ‘blue hole’ for unforgettable underwater vistas.. Absorb the vast heritage of this place by visiting the UNESCO Neolithic Ġgantija Temple ruins and use up the rest of your time going on rural hikes and snorkelling in the crystal waters.

The island promotes eco-education in schools and won the award for showing global leadership in protecting its local culture and traditions, involving the local community in tourism and avoiding human exploitation at every cost.

DUTCH QUALITY COAST DELTA (NETHERLANDS) – BEST OF NATURE

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The Dutch Quality Coast Delta is celebrated for its active protection of scenic views, natural habitats and wildlife. The area – composed of Goeree-Overflakee, Schouwen Duiveland, Veere and Westvoorne – was also awarded for its respect for animals and animal welfare.

The area is famed for its natural, coastal beauty surrounded by the North Sea. ‘Soft mobility’ is promoted with cycle paths and walking tracks scattering the islands, and in Westvoorne specifically, you can visit one of the most species-rich dunes of Western Europe.

A trip to the Dutch delta will be characterised by long, scenic walks, boat rides and visits to museums. One sight you won’t want to miss is Grevelingenmeer salt water lake (sometimes translated as lake Grevelingen). On the lake, you can partake in all sorts of water sports and recreational activities, and the views are simply breathtaking.

TORROELLA DE MONTRI – L’ESTARTIT (SPAIN) – BEST OF SEASIDE

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Torroella de Montgrí is a small town in Spain’s Costa Brava, in the region of Catalonia. It won the global award for its commitment to sustainable tourism for water related leisure activities. The town is over 1,000 years old with a rich historical centre, l’Estartit, and features restored heritage sites and beautiful footpaths looking over the shoreline.

The town faces the Medes Islands Marine Reserve, one of the most important marine flora and fauna reserves in the western Mediterranean, also a popular scuba diving landmark. Water activities include trips in glass-bottomed boats and underwater activities devoted to preserving the natural marine habitat, home to over a hundred brightly coloured species such as variants of coral, starfish, gorgonia, octopus and lobster.

REPUBLIC OF GUYANA – BEST OF ECOTOURISM

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Often described as South America's best kept secret, it is ideal for travellers in search of raw adventure - and it's English speaking too! It boasts pristine Atlantic beaches in the north, staggering mountain ranges to the west, rainforests bursting with life and never-ending savannahs in the south. Their tropical rainforests and savannahs are known as “Land of the Giants” for being home to highly endangered species such as jaguars, giant anteaters, giant river otters and stealthy caimans.

The country’s true ethos can be felt in the many community-based tourism activities while at the same time, tourism is respectful to the environment and promotes peoples and their culture which is a niche area in tourism itself. Guyana is dedicated to culture but also to nature preservation as it promotes conservation values of protected areas and species and support biodiversity conservation through sustainable tourism.

CHUMBE ISLAND (TANZANIA) – BEST OF AFRICA

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Chumbe Island Coral Park is a small island off the coast of Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania in East Africa. The first privately established and managed Marine Protected Area in the world, and the only one fully-funded through ecotourism, Chumbe Island was set up by Sibylle Riedmiller. It is the guests to Chumbe Island Coral Park fund conservation and education.

Explore the island’s stunning coral reef sanctuary and coral rag forest, relax in the exclusive eco-bungalows, savour traditional Zanzibari cuisine, all the while supporting conservation and education efforts.

BARDIA NATIONAL PARK (NEPAL) – BEST OF ASIA-PACIFIC

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Established in 1988, the Bardiya National Park covers an area of 374 sq. mi. It is the largest and most undisturbed national park in Nepal’s southern Terai, adjoining the eastern bank of the glacier-fed Karnali River and bisected by the Babai River in the Bardiya District.

The protected area of the park is home to such animals like tigers, Asian elephants, rhinoceros. The Park is firmly committed to preserving this wildlife and their habitat in cooperation with international organisations. It also focuses on home culture preservation, by training local community on sustainable tourism and promoting locally made products.

The national park is renowned globally for the phenomenal success in DOUBLING the elusive Royal Bengal Tiger numbers.

GALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK (ECUADOR) – BEST OF THE AMERICAS

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The Galapagos Islands are an UNESCO World Heritage Site with more than 98% of its land territory under a conservation status. Tourism in the Galapagos islands is under the “Ecotourism Model” approach, this means that all tourism activities should ensure:

  • Maximization of local participation and equal distribution of benefits
  • Conservation on natural resources
  • Shared responsibility between stakeholders

There are 14 rules that all visitors are expected to abide by when they visit. This helps to minimise our impact and preserve the animals’ territory, so they can continue to thrive, and so travellers in the years to come can enjoy the incredible and unique flora and fauna.

Tourism dollars are helping to fund conservation efforts in the Galapagos. And what is perhaps invaluable is the perspective travellers gain after visiting the islands for themselves. You will truly understand how small things can have a huge impact on an ecosystem when you’ve experienced that delicate balance for yourself.

PORTUGAL – BEST OF EUROPE

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Everyone wants to visit Portugal. And for good reason. It’s affordable, beautiful and you can taste some outstanding food and wine. The Algarve's beaches are a major draw and much of the nation’s architecture dates to the 1500s–1800s, when Portugal had a powerful maritime empire. Small countries like Portugal are perfect for the people who want to explore an entire country in a single trip.

The Portuguese Government launched in 2017 the Tourism Strategy 2027, which defines the vision for the Portuguese tourism industry for the next decade: “To affirm tourism as a hub for economic, social and environmental development throughout the territory, positioning Portugal as one of the most competitive and sustainable tourism destinations in the world” It’s an ambitious plan that resulted in this award.

REPUBLIC OF PALAU – ITB EARTH AWARD

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A trailblazer of sustainable tourism, Palau is a beautiful archipelago of about 200 limestone and volcanic islands in the western Pacific Ocean. Known for being one of the best diving locations in the world, Palau also lays claim to an immense expanse of coral reefs, one of the largest upland forests in Micronesia, abundant marine life, extremely diverse native forests, healthy island vegetation and a large number of endangered fish species within its island waters.

Palau is the world’s first nation to change its laws for sustainability and sustainable tourism. Upon entry, visitors now need to sign a pledge to act in an ecologically responsible way on the island, and entry visas are only issued to those who sign it.

New regulations in 2020 will ban the sale and use of reef-toxic sunscreens beginning in 2020.

Well, there you have it...10 eco-friendly destinations for 2020. Now all you have to do is decide which one to visit first!

If you'd like personalized recommendations please set up a free 30 minute planning consultation by contacting me at shariblock@findyourhappytravels.com. I am a professional Travel Advisor who specializes in sustainable adventure+wellness trips for time-starved professionals who dream big!

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Shari Block

Shari Block

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