DO IT NOW
A CLOSER LOOK AT THESE 20 DESTINATIONS AND WAYS OF SUSTAINABLE TRAVELING REVEALS IT'S NOT AS COMPLICATED AS MANY TRAVELERS BELIEVE
BY: HILDA RODRÍGUEZ, DEGREE IN TOURISM STUDIES PHOTOS: EXCELENCIAS ARCHIVES
Afirst step is not usually an easy thing to take, especially when it comes to changing the ways of doing something that provides as much pleasure as a trip. But tourism in the 21st century goes beyond packing your bags, choosing a hotel and going to spend a few days in a beautiful room, swimming in the pool and enjoying room service. There are as many types of tourism as there are tourists, destinations and travel objectives, and most of them -with a high level of specialization and personalization- range from more traditional modalities such as business tourism, rural and adventure tourism, cultural tourism or sun and beach tourism, to such unconventional options as black tourism (which seeks to generate extreme sensations) or paranormal tourism (related to supernatural phenomena in which psychic elements are combined). A new type of traveler is growing in response to international policies that encourage the development of sustainable destinations around the world. When in 1983 the United Nations Organization constituted the World Commission on Environment and Development, the concept of sustainable tourism began to take shape, which reached its peak during the 90's with the celebration in 1992 of the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and Agenda 21 were born. In 1995, the World Conference on Sustainable Tourism was held in Lanzarote, Spain, where the "Charter for Sustainable Tourism" was declared, with plans of action to apply the concept in the sector. The World Tourism Organization states that the objectives of sustainable tourism involve the optimal use of environmental resources, respect for the sociocultural authenticity of host communities, and ensuring viable long-term economic activities with well-distributed socioeconomic benefits. Although sustainable tourism is often confused with ecotourism, in reality they are different. Specialized media and blogs point out that while the former implies the development and maintenance of localities in all their amplitude and contemplates a plan that guarantees the operability of the industry while ensuring sustainability, ecotourism is an activity focused on promoting purely natural destinations and their care. Do you want to do sustainable tourism, but don't know how? These tips may be useful. Booking eco-lodges and in places that are not too crowded, taking direct flights, not wasting paper and taking more advantage of technology, walking or pedaling, respecting the culture visited, supporting the local economy and not leaving a polluting footprint, are some basic measures you can take. It is also possible to optimize water consumption, use eco-labeled cosmetics, reuse containers and packaging, use batteries and rechargeable batteries and, of course, share this knowledge with other travelers. The study of the most diverse bibliography on the subject yields a great diversity of countries or localities committed to a greater or lesser extent with the environment. Our first 10 proposals come from National Geographic, one of the world's largest international organizations on education and science, which published in its magazine a list of nations that have made a serious commitment to ecological transformation. For this reason they were considered the most sustainable destinations in the world, according to a report by the global market research company Euromonitor International. The last 10 were collected from websites that collect recommendations from travel companies, tourists and platforms such as Booking.com and Turismocity, where 72% of the travel community considers it important to act now and choose sustainable travel options in order to protect the Earth. » 20 DESTINATIONS ENVIRONMENTALLY COMMITTED 1. Sweden. It is the home of the climate strike activist Greta Thunberg, famous Swedish environmental activist. Of interest can be biking in Dalecarlia or staying at the Treehotel. 2. Finland. It has been internationally recognized as "the happiest country in the world" thanks to its connection with nature. Visit the village of Posio, a pioneer in receiving the Sustainable Travel Finland label. 3. Austria. A leader in green transportation, benefiting from the Smart Cities initiative that promotes energy-efficient mobility. You can visit Vienna's most famous vegan fast food chain, Swing Kitchen, or visit the beautiful Das Capri hotel. 4. Estonia. Its social sustainability performance sets it apart from the rest of the Baltic countries. The European Commission chose Estonia's capital, Tallinn, as the European Green Capital for 2023. 5. Norway. Norway is committed to new trends in ecological leisure with all-electric ferries, hotels that produce more than they consume and a very green capital. Vega, Trysil, Røros and Laerdal are known as pioneering destinations for sustainable tourism. 6. Slovakia. It joined UNESCO'S World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism Program with the aim of strengthening the country's socio-economic development and has managed to stand out among the top 10 for its progress. 7. Iceland. It has an overtourism, but reaches the first position in the ranking of sustainable tourism demand due, above all, to the fact that it is its main route because it connects all the cities. Plan an excursion to Blue Lagoon and go to see the Aurora Borealis. 8. Latvia. Predominates for its leadership in the technological race. It has The Forest Trail, a route that connects 2 140 kilometers of forests and national parks of the three Baltic countries. Taking Riga as the heart of the trip is a good idea. 9. France. It is one of the most visited in the world for more than two decades and has improved its economic sustainability indexes. Escape to Angers and visit one of the 191 hotels and hostels with the Ecolabel, the European Union's eco-label. 10. Slovenia. It has 60% of its territory covered by nature and is one of the most biodiverse countries in Europe. It was one of the founders of the Future of Tourism Coalition and a member of the World Sustainable Tourism Council. 11. Costa Rica. It is the first country recommended in Booking.com for sustainable tourism. It created its own seal of quality for tourism companies: the CST (Certification for Sustainable Tourism). 12. Ecuador. The Galapagos Islands National Park and Natural World Heritage Site is one of the main drivers of ecotourism at the international level. It is possible to interact with a variety of land and marine animal species. 13. Brazil. Fernando de Noroña was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and on its main island, the beaches have a daily visitor limit of 400 people, which allows its environmental preservation. 14. Argentina. It has Los Esteros del Iberá, which is the second largest wetland in the world and has more than 4,000 aquatic and terrestrial species; and the National Park Lago Puelo and Los Alerces, located at the foot of the Andes Mountains. 15. Japón. The Japan National Tourism Office has mapped out strategies to make the country a harbinger in sustainable tourism worldwide. Swing by the Amami-oshina National Park or the city boffins Toyooka where the eastern white stork has made a comeback, and the island of Sado where tourists, locals and toki birds -now coming out of the extinction list- luve together. 16. Denmark. The Grow Pro Experience platform highlights this country as a sustainable destination. Since the 1980s, this northern European country has been implementing measures to curb climate change, such as reducing energy consumption with campaigns to promote the use of bicycles instead of cars. 17. Switzerland. It stands out for climate protection and air purity, in addition to clean water. The Swiss government has implemented green policies in which the rate for waste collection and disposal is quite high. 18. Australia. It promotes a large number of ecological initiatives. The environmental awareness of Australians is part of everyday life. 19. Ireland. It is among the 20 most important ecological countries in the world. The reduction of CO2 has been a priority in this country, so one of the first environmental regulations implemented was to charge a tax on the use of fossil fuels (oil). 20. Germany. Berlin is considered the greenest capital in Europe. It has 6,400 hectares of natural areas and some 2,500 parks.