As places around the world begin to disappear forever due to environmental changes, ecotourism is becoming more popular and important than ever. Ecotourism destinations not only allow travelers to see some of the most extreme and beautiful natural wonders around the world, they also ensure that travelers do so responsibly. Often, the money pumped into an economy by tourists is than put back into preserving and conserving its natural environment — in other words, everybody wins.
8 Incredible Eco-Friendly Destinations In The World
1. Costa Rica
The country undoubtedly most associated with ecotourism, Costa Rica has made a name for itself as a travel destination because of its well-protected natural beauty. The South American country, with coastlines on both the Caribbean and Pacific, is almost one-fourth rainforest, the main draw for visitors. In addition to the rainforests, there are breathtaking volcanoes and pristine beaches, both of which add to the stunning biodiversity in the country. If you’d like to stay in eco-friendly accomodations while there, you'll have plenty of places to choose from.
Norway might not be a place that first comes to mind when thinking of ecotourism, but the country’s culture of trying to live sustainably has influenced its travel industry extensively — especially in the Norwegian Fjords. Fjord Norway is even one of four pilot destinations of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s program for new criteria for destinations. Among other things, the government ensures that fishing, hunting and drilling for oil are all well regulated in this area.
Kenya is one of the prime destinations to take an African safari due to its grasslands full of animals such as giraffes, lions, and rhinos. However, the country has more to offer than that, with beaches, coral reefs, and mountains as well. Such varied landscapes means that Kenya has a lot of biodiversity, especially of birds. Though the country has lost many animals to illegal poaching, organizations within the country have done their best to make sure travelers respect the ecosystem. To make sure you’re traveling sustainably, stay at the Swahili Eco Villa-Mgunga House.
Palau, an island nation in the western Pacific that is part of Micronesia, is known more for its oceans than for its land. Off the coast is a beautiful, crystal blue sea home to coral reefs and hundreds of species of fish. On shore, the country has diverse forests and untouched beaches. The country has dedicated itself to preserving such beautiful landscapes by making much of its reefs no-fishing zones. Additionally, he Palau Project, part of Blue Planet United, brings university students to Palau to learn about the island, makes documentary films about the country and supports ecotourism.
In 1978, the Galapagos Islands were declared the first ever Natural World Heritage Site due to the amazing and unique fauna that call the archipelago home. Luckily, the country has a Directorate of the Galapagos National Park which implements a visitor management system to make sure that the natural area is respected and tourism remains sustainable. If you go, stay at the Villa in the Galapagos where the owner has taken measures to save electricity and reduce waste.
Antarctica remains one of the least-touched places on Earth for obvious reasons — you can only even reach the landmass during the summer. Still, thousands of tourists make the journey via boat each year to see the icebergs, penguins, and whales. The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators aims to promote environmentally responsible practices among private sector travel to the continent.
Iceland has recently become a top tourist destination as it lures visitors in with its remote beauty. The country is the cleanest energy consumer in the world, and travelers can reduce their footprint by camping instead of staying in big hotels, or hiking, biking and horseback riding instead of driving when exploring the country. If you visit southern Iceland, stay at this eco-friendly home in Eyrarbakki.
The Amazon has already suffered extremely from climate change and the encroachment of man, but some areas around the huge forest are aiming to change that by having native become guides to lead tourists around the forests in ways that are sustainable and even promote the health of the ecosystem.
This article was written by Isabella Sayyah.