With responsible tourism on the rise, it's not just about how we choose to travel, but where we choose to travel too. A big part of being a responsible traveller is choosing to spread the love around - to visit lesser known destinations and support their economies and communities. We can also be responsible travellers by choosing to explore destinations that are actively doing good work to protect the environment and support their people. Here are our top picks for sustainable travel:
1. New Zealand: It might be a very close neighbour to us here in Australia, but New Zealand is one of our favourite places to travel. An absolute wonderland for nature and outdoor enthusiasts, New Zealand have always been leaders in protecting their country's natural beauty.
2. Costa Rica: If you're looking to travel somewhere a little more exotic, Costa Rica could be perfect for you. While a lot of parts of South America are quite touristy, Costa Rica is doing some incredible work around sustainability. In fact they are working towards being the world's first carbon neutral country by 2020! With coastlines on both the Caribbean and the Pacific, Costa Rica is rich in biodiversity across it's many beaches, volcanoes and rainforests. The country also produces over 90% of its electricity from renewable resources and conserves over 30% of its natural territory. Win win!
3. Norway: Conservation is a big part of Norwegian culture, pioneering many responsible tourism and green initiatives. Norway are using waste as a key source of green fuel, powering homes, shops and schools. They are also working towards a goal of being carbon dioxide neutral by 2030, heavily investing in technologies to reduce carbon emissions. With such stunning landscapes it makes sense they are so committed to protecting them!
4. Chumbe Island, Zanzibar: Chumbe Island Coral Park is private nature reserve that was developed in 1991. The reserve has a fully protected coral reef sanctuary and forest reserve and all of the buildings and operations are built around zero impact (everything from rainwater catchment, composting toilets, vegetative greywater filtration and solar water heating). Chumbe Island's sustainable management programs have been recognized with many global awards.
5. Chile: The Chilean government recently unveiled five new national parks in Patagonia, also expanding three others, creating an incredible expanse of 17 national parks stretching down the southern half of the country. Chile is also doing some great work to increase their solar and geothermal power capacity.
6. Vanuatu: This popular tourist destination has a goal of becoming 100% reliable on renewable energy by 2030. Their government has also recently implemented a policy that puts conservation and sustainable management of ecosystems at the forefront. Vanuatu's prime minister has also called for a ban on the use and import of all single-use plastic bags and bottles - they will be the first country in the Pacific to impose a ban if it goes ahead.
7. The Galapagos Islands: The remote Galapagos archipelago is a true heaven for nature enthusiasts and eco-tourists. The Galapagos was the first UNESCO Natural Heritage Site for Humanity back in 1978 and homes some of the world's most unique wildlife and ecosystems. In fact 97% of the Galapagos is protected national park or marine reserve. Travel to the islands is also closely managed, requiring the company of guides.