2017's Top 6 Sustainable Travel Destinations

By Misty Foster
Green Suitcase Travel,

2017 will be a banner year for travelers who are looking to keep a low environmental impact and have an epic adventure along the way. Many destinations are making changes to their attractions and accommodations to draw in a more conscious crowd. With climate talks taking center stage around the world, sustainability is much more than something labeled as, “green”. While the environmental impact is a large factor, more is at play. When it comes to traveling, a holistic approach is becoming more and more desirable. Does the destination support its community? Are the wildlife, culture and local ecosystem being respected?

Here are my top picks for 2016’s travel destinations that are sure to pique the interest of any socially conscious travelers.

1 Vancouver, Canada
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently unveiled multiple plans for a cleaner Canada, specifically for Vancouver. The government plans to invest $200 million each year towards renewable energy and technology.

The city boasts several parks, is a top spot for skiing and even has environmentally responsible, whale tour operators. If you are a bike enthusiast, there are many adventures to try along the Pacific Rim. Granville Island is a zero-waste location, and all of the buildings have been repurposed. If you are looking for a city that feels like a nature retreat, Vancouver is for you.

2 Costa Rica
This Central American spot has been popular for sustainability for some time. Costa Rica continues to stand out due to notable initiatives. They plan to be the first carbon neutral country by 2021 and 23% of their national territory is protected land. In addition, they are committed to peace. They abolished their standing army in 1948 and more recently released news to free and rehabilitate all zoo animals. The country boasts several pristine beaches, jungles and several lush Islands like Calero and Cocos. It’s a beautiful destination for anyone looking for a slice of paradise. Visitors can choose from a number of eco-lodges like, Lapa Rios or Pacuare Lodge.

[post_ads]3 Iceland
Geothermal pools, pure water source, a symbiosis between government and its people…sounds like Iceland! This gem has been rising as a tourist destination the past few years and the country continues to make strides toward energy renewal and conservation. 75% of Iceland’s energy is used by their natural resources, and they continue to curb pollution and greenhouse emissions. From the famous Blue Lagoon geothermal pools to Icelandic farm holidays, there are plenty of attractions for nature lovers. If a city experience is more your style, Rejkiavik is no stranger to the eco-tourism scene with several hostels and hotels aimed at keeping low environmental impact.

4 Cyprus
Cyprus just won silver for best sustainable travel destination at the 2015 Responsible Travel Awards. They bring in 2.4 million visitors a year and are creating long-term plans for sustainable tourism. Cyprus is known for their local and fresh agriculture as well as having three UNESCO world heritage sites, which is impressive for a country smaller than Connecticut! They are also working closely with The Travel Foundation in the UK to support several women-owned businesses and female entrepreneurs. They also have serious beach and wildlife conservation efforts that have been in place since 2010. Given the history of conflict between Greece and Turkey over Cyprus, the country has a unique opportunity to set a new stage for itself as a formidable leader in ecological initiatives.

5 Botswana, Africa
Botswana stands out as the leader of sustainability in Africa. The country has an eco-rating certification process and is hosting the 10th annual Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference in 2016. They have been members of International Ecotourism Society since 2007 and a member of The Global Sustainable Tourism Council since 2011. UNESCO recently named the Okavango Delta Ramsar Site as its 1,000th World Heritage Site. The government promotes non-consumptive and low-volume tourism. They even banned hunting in 2013. Eco-resorts situated along the Chobe River and safari operators, like African Bush Camps, are making the animals and locals well being a priority. On top of all these efforts, Lonely Planet named Botswana the #1 Sustainable Tourism Destination of 2016. Who can argue with that?

6 Palau Who?
Another destination to consider for the new year: Palau. Off the coast of Indonesia, The Republic of Palau spot was named Lonely Planet's #4 for responsible tourism. Fun fact: They recently moved towards making 100% of their ocean territory deemed a "marine sanctuary". 

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Travel Magazine: 2017's Top 6 Sustainable Travel Destinations
2017's Top 6 Sustainable Travel Destinations
Travel Magazine
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