Places We Are Looking Forward To Visiting In 2018
2017 was a banner year for sustainable tourism. With the United Nations backing the movement and many industry professionals pointing their compass towards these ideals, the question remains….what’s next? How do we carry the momentum from this year into the new year?
There are many organizations like the Impact Travel Alliance and Sustainable Travel International, who are actively working to mobilize tourism professionals to keep riding the wave. At GST, we also want this to go beyond just a trend. We want it to be a way of life. After all, we can’t keep traveling and enjoy this beautiful planet if we deplete our resources.
The good news is, more and more destinations are seeing the advantages of implementing a sustainable business model. At GST we use these ten factors to measure how places are working towards sustainable development: safety, natural resources, holistic health, entrepreneurship, environmental wellness, adventure activity resources, humanitarian initiatives, cultural resources, infrastructure, and image.
With these principals in mind we’ve rounded up our 2018 bucket list destinations! We are excited to see what these places are doing to create a more responsible travel experience for visitors. Some of these we’ve chosen specific regions, some the whole country, and some certain activities.
The Faroe Islands
A cross between the island in The Last Jedi and something out of Game of Thrones, the Faroe Islands are truly cinematic. We choose them not only for their picturesque nature, but also for their sustainable fisheries, unique gastronomy (specifically with raest), and preservation of culture. Oh, and hey, they have plans to run entirely on 100% clean energy by 2023!
One can explore hidden grottos, verdant rolling hills, and dramatic waterfalls throughout the island. The remoteness of this destination allows you to get away from it all and really immerse yourself in what the Faroese have to offer. One of our favorite findings is the chance to attend a live concert inside of a grotto during the summer months.
We also love that the tourism board created their own version of Google Translate so you can learn how to say things like, “excuse me” and “do you think I’m attractive?” in Faroese.
New Zealand has long been at the forefront of sustainable tourism and they have a vision of being the world leader in such efforts by 2025. They have adopted 14 commitments focused on visitor, community, environmental, and economic wealth.
The country is an outdoor mecca for nature and adventure enthusiasts. One can marvel at the glow-worm caves in Waitomo, go bird watching on Stewart Island or explore volcanic and geothermal rock formations in New Zealand. Astro-tourism is also popular here as it’s the only other place (besides Chile or the South Pole) to view the Southern Cross star formation. Aoraki Mackenzie is a gold-rated Dark Sky Reserve and officially the biggest reserve in the world!
Want to learn more about Maori culture? Te Puia allows you to explore Whakarewarewa geothermal valley, taste Maori cuisine, and learn about their history and traditions.
Fun fact: Air New Zealand won the 2017 airline of the year for their sustainability initiatives.
Kerela, India (Jatayu Earth Center)
So, we are really excited about this one. It’s the first ever totally sustainable adventure park in the world, the Jatayu Earth Center. It’s being described as “a masterpiece combination of artistry, mythology, technology, culture, adventure, leisure and wellness put together to give every visitor a spellbinding experience.”
One can hike through a private forest to get to the center, enjoy moonlit dining while there, experience traditional Siddha treatment in caves, and so much more!
At the entrance of the park sits Jatayupara, the world’s largest bird sculpture, which symbolizes an era where humans and other living beings cared for and cohabitated peacefully on planet earth.
If that’s not jaw-dropping enough, perhaps the slew of activities from archery to bouldering, that will draw you in.
As a member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, the park sources their water from a rainwater-harvesting reserve they built that holds up to twenty lakhs liters of water.
They also have an agricultural society that made up of farmers in the surrounding area. To promote organic farming they plan on setting up stalls that will sell those local farmer’s produce at the Earth’s Center for visitors to buy fresh products.
After visiting Jatayu, you’ll want to explore the rest of Kerala, too! Kerala Tourism recently won “world’s best responsible tourism project” at the World Travel Market London.
San Blas Islands, Panama
There are 378 islands off the Northwest archipelago of Panama (facing the Caribbean Sea). These largely uninhabited islands are called the San Blas Islands. A few of the larger islands are occupied by the indigenous population, the Kuna’s.
The Kuna’s (also referred to as Guna’s) are an autonomous territory and the Panamanian government has no sway over how they choose to rule the islands. This makes it an ideal place to visit because everything is you buy is direct-trade and all of your interactions will be with the natives. Your dollar goes directly back into their economy! You also have to get permission in advance to stay on one of the islands and the accommodations are made by the Guna from natural materials sourced from the jungle.
Untouched by mass tourism, the only way to get to the San Blass is via sailboat. Sail away, sail away, sail away.
Most people skip over Slovenia when planning a trip to Europe, which is a shame since Ljubljana is not only gorgeous but also one of the most eco-friendly destinations in Europe. In 2016 they won the European Green Capital distinction and in 2017 was ranked on the list of global top 100 sustainable destinations for the third time.
Hop on a BicikleJ and tour the historic, picturesque streets of Ljubljana. Or attend one of many culinary tours the city has to offer, including a craft beer tour and a visit to a homestead where you can experience what life was like in Slovene villages 350 years ago.
Something tells us that the city of Ljubljana will be riding the green city moniker for a long time.
Misty is the owner and founder of Green Suitcase Travel. She is a consultant, travel writer, and all around travel maven. When she is not traversing the world, spreading the news about sustainable travel, she is in Tucson, Arizona enjoying the desert.