Explore the beauty of the world while reducing your carbon footprint
If you’re like me, you love to explore new places, learn about different cultures, and connect with people from all over the world. But with that comes the responsibility to minimize our impact on the environment and the communities we visit. As a conscious traveler, I have learned that sustainable tourism is not only about reducing our carbon footprint but also about supporting local businesses, respecting local customs, and preserving the natural and cultural heritage of the places we visit.
Of course I’ve witnessed the negative effects of tourism on our planet, but I’ve also seen the beauty and diversity of our world firsthand. One of my most memorable experiences was in Marrakesh, Morocco. I was struck by the city’s vibrant energy and rich culture, but I was also impressed by the way they prioritize sustainable tourism. From rooftop gardens to traditional hammams that use natural products, Marrakesh is a city that understands the importance of preserving its environment. And it’s not just Marrakesh. From Portugal’s commitment to renewable energy to Slovenia’s focus on sustainable food practices, there are destinations all over the world that are making a positive impact. I’ve compiled a list of seven of the best destinations that offer a glimpse into the beauty and diversity of our planet while also promoting responsible, ethical and sustainable tourism.
Costa Rica’s Renewable Energy Goals and Progress
- Costa Rica has set a goal to become carbon neutral by 2050, and it’s well on its way. Today, the majority of the country’s electricity comes from renewable sources such as hydropower, wind, and solar energy.
Exploring Costa Rica’s National Parks and Reserves
- Nearly 30% of Costa Rica’s land is protected by national parks and reserves, which are home to a diverse array of wildlife and ecosystems. Some popular ones include Manuel Antonio National Park, Arenal Volcano National Park, and Corcovado National Park.
Wildlife Conservation Efforts in Costa Rica
- Costa Rica has made efforts to protect their wildlife, with many organizations dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating animals. One notable organization is the Sloth Sanctuary, located on the Caribbean coast, which rescues injured and orphaned sloths and releases them back into the wild.
Eco-Friendly Accommodations in Costa Rica
- Many hotels and lodges in Costa Rica have earned certifications for their eco-friendly practices, such as using renewable energy, recycling, and conserving water. Some examples include Lapa Rios Eco Lodge, Arenas del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort, and El Silencio Lodge & Spa.
Sustainable Activities to Enjoy in Costa Rica
- There are plenty of eco-friendly activities to enjoy in Costa Rica, such as zip-lining through the rainforest, birdwatching, and hiking to waterfalls. Some companies that specialize in sustainable tourism include Monteverde Community Tours, Rios Tropicales, and Cano Island Biological Reserve.
Costa Rica’s Campaign to Reduce Plastic Pollution
- In 2019, Costa Rica launched a campaign called “No más plástico en el mar” (“No more plastic in the ocean”), which aims to reduce plastic pollution and promote recycling. Many restaurants and businesses in the country have also pledged to reduce or eliminate single-use plastic and now use biodegradable or reusable alternatives to plastic straws, bags, and utensils.
Carbon Offsetting Options in Costa Rica
- Many tour companies in Costa Rica offer the option to purchase carbon offsets through special programs, where travelers can contribute funds to offset the carbon emissions from their flights. These funds are applied toward projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as reforestation and renewable energy. Examples include Costa Rica Expeditions and Gecko Trail Costa Rica. Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve uses the funds to protect and restore the cloud forest.
Sustainable Transportation in Costa Rica
- Costa Rica has an extensive public transportation system that includes buses and trains, which are affordable and eco-friendly alternatives to renting a car. The San José bus system, for example, is operated by the government and uses low-emission buses.
Organic Farming Practices in Costa Rica
- Costa Rica is also committed to promoting organic farming practices. Many local farmers and markets offer organic produce, which helps to reduce the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
Portugal’s Renewable Energy Revolution
- Portugal has invested heavily in renewable energy, and today over 50% of the country’s electricity comes from renewable sources, such as wind and solar power.
Portugal’s Extensive Public Transportation Network
- Portugal has an extensive network of public transportation, including buses, trams, and trains. The country has also implemented a bike-sharing program in many cities, which allows visitors to explore the cities while reducing their carbon footprint.
Sustainable Accommodations in Portugal
- Portugal has several eco-friendly accommodations, including the Casas do Côro in Marialva, which has a “zero-kilometer” philosophy, sourcing all of its ingredients from local farms.
Portugal’s Waste Reduction Initiatives
- Portugal has implemented various initiatives to reduce waste, such as providing recycling bins in public spaces and implementing a plastic bag tax. The country has also banned single-use plastics in some areas, such as beaches.
Eco-Tourism Activities in Portugal
- Portugal has several eco-tourism options, including the Azores Islands, which have been named one of the top sustainable tourism destinations in the world. The islands have strict regulations to protect the natural environment and offer activities such as whale watching and hiking.
The Rise of Organic Farming in Portugal
- Portugal has a growing organic farming industry, and many farmers have implemented sustainable farming practices, such as crop rotation and using natural fertilizers.
Portugal’s Coastal Conservation Efforts
- Portugal has several protected areas along its coastline, including the Ria Formosa Natural Park, which is a haven for bird watchers and has been recognized as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.
Eco-Friendly Activities and Wildlife Observation in Thailand
- Thailand has 127 national parks, many of which offer eco-friendly activities such as hiking, birdwatching, and wildlife observation. One such park is Khao Yai National Park, which is home to over 3,000 species of plants and animals.
Reducing Environmental Impact with Renewable Energy and Bicycle Tours in Thailand
- Many tour companies in Thailand have adopted sustainable practices to reduce their impact on the environment. For example, some companies offer bicycle tours instead of car tours, while others use renewable energy sources to power their activities.
Hotels with Eco-Friendly Practices in Thailand
- Several hotels in Thailand have adopted eco-friendly practices such as using solar power, reducing water usage, and recycling. One example is the Veranda High Resort Chiang Mai, which has won awards for its eco-friendly efforts.
Thailand’s Sustainable Agriculture and Tours at the Royal Project Foundation
- Thailand is home to several organic and sustainable farms, which offer tours and activities for visitors. One such farm is the Royal Project Foundation, which promotes sustainable agriculture and helps farmers transition from opium cultivation to other crops.
Protecting Thailand’s Coral Reefs with Community-Based Efforts
- Thailand has several marine conservation projects aimed at preserving the country’s rich marine life. For example, the Koh Tao Coral Project is a community-based conservation effort that involves local residents in protecting the island’s coral reefs.
The Elephant Nature Park and Efforts to Protect Thailand’s Wildlife
- Thailand is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including elephants, tigers, and monkeys. To protect these animals and their habitats, many conservation efforts are being implemented across the country. One such effort is the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, which is a sanctuary for elephants rescued from logging and tourism industries.
Thailand’s Goal of Generating 30% Renewable Energy by 2036
- Thailand is working towards increasing its use of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power. The country has set a goal of generating 30% of its energy from renewable sources by 2036.
Measures Taken to Reduce Single-Use Plastics in Thailand
- Thailand has implemented several measures to reduce the use of single-use plastics. For example, many supermarkets and stores no longer provide plastic bags, and some hotels and restaurants have replaced plastic straws with biodegradable alternatives.
Eco-Friendly Options with the BTS and MRT
- Thailand is making significant efforts to improve its public transportation system to reduce pollution and traffic congestion. The Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTS) and the Metropolitan Rapid Transit (MRT) are two of the most popular modes of public transportation in Bangkok. Both systems are eco-friendly and run on electricity.
Promoting Eco-Friendly Tourism in Colombia
- Colombia has implemented sustainable tourism initiatives, such as the Green Seal Certification, which promotes eco-friendly practices in the tourism industry. Tourists can support these efforts by choosing to stay in eco-friendly hotels and lodges that have earned this certification.
A Challenging Trek to Discover Colombia’s Rich History
- Located in the Sierra Nevada mountains, the ancient city of Ciudad Perdida, or “Lost City,” is a unique eco-tourism destination. Visitors must hike through the jungle to reach the city, which is believed to have been built in the 9th century. The trek is challenging but worth it, as visitors are rewarded with breathtaking views and a glimpse into the country’s rich history.
Exploring Colombia’s Diverse Ecosystems and Biodiversity
- Colombia is home to over 50 national parks, which provide a wealth of opportunities for eco-tourism. Visitors can explore the diverse ecosystems, including rainforests, deserts, and coral reefs, and experience the country’s incredible biodiversity. National parks such as Tayrona and Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta offer visitors opportunities to hike, birdwatch, and learn about conservation efforts.
Sustainable Eco-Tours of Colombia’s World-Renowned Coffee
- Colombia is known for its world-renowned coffee, and many coffee plantations offer eco-tours to educate visitors on the process of growing and producing coffee in a sustainable way. Visitors can learn about eco-friendly practices such as composting and water conservation, and can even taste some of the finest coffee in the world.
Locally Sourced, Organic Food in Colombia
- Colombia is home to many eco-friendly restaurants that serve locally sourced, organic food. Examples include the vegetarian restaurant Quinua y Amaranto in Bogotá and Selva in Medellin, which uses sustainable seafood and seasonal produce.
Supporting Local Communities Through Eco-Friendly Activities
- Community tourism initiatives in Colombia, such as those in the town of Palomino, provide visitors with the opportunity to learn about and support local communities while also enjoying eco-friendly activities such as hiking and river tubing.
Protecting Colombia’s Natural Resources
- Colombia is one of the world’s most biodiverse countries, with over 56,000 species of plants and animals. The country has made efforts to protect its natural resources through conservation projects such as the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Biosphere Reserve and the Los Colorados Wildlife Refuge.
Morocco’s Massive Solar Power Plant
- Morocco has made significant investments in renewable energy, particularly solar power. The country’s Noor Ouarzazate solar power plant is one of the largest in the world and has the capacity to power over one million homes.
Staying Eco-Friendly in Morocco
- Many accommodations in Morocco are taking steps to be more sustainable. For example, the Kasbah du Toubkal, located in the Atlas Mountains, is committed to being eco-friendly by using renewable energy sources, reducing waste, and supporting the local community.
Exploring Morocco’s Natural Beauty Sustainably
- The Moroccan government has placed an emphasis on eco-tourism, encouraging visitors to explore the country’s natural beauty in a sustainable way. There are several eco-tourism companies, such as Trekking in Morocco, that offer guided tours of the country’s natural areas while prioritizing sustainability and minimizing their impact on the environment.
Discovering Morocco’s Organic Products
- Morocco is a significant exporter of organic products, such as argan oil, which is produced in a sustainable manner. Visitors can visit cooperatives, such as the Marjana Cooperative, to see how argan oil is made and to support sustainable agriculture practices.
Fighting Plastic Waste in Morocco
- Morocco has launched several initiatives to reduce waste, particularly plastic waste. For example, the city of Marrakech has implemented a program to reduce plastic waste by providing reusable bags to visitors and locals.
Preserving Morocco’s Natural Wonders
- Morocco is home to several green spaces, such as the Majorelle Garden in Marrakech, which is committed to preserving and protecting the environment. The garden’s botanical collection is home to over 300 plant species from around the world.
The World’s First Country with All Green Certified Tourism Regions
- Slovenia is the first country in the world to have all its tourism regions certified as green destinations. The Green Destination certification is awarded to destinations that implement sustainable practices in tourism, protecting the environment, and supporting local communities. Some of the certified destinations in Slovenia include Bled, Bohinj, Ljubljana, and Maribor.
Herbal Glamping Resort Ljubno in Slovenia
- Slovenia has a wide range of eco-friendly accommodations, including glamping sites, farm stays, and eco-hotels. One of the eco-friendly accommodations in Slovenia is the Herbal Glamping Resort Ljubno, located in the Upper Savinja Valley. The resort offers unique glamping experiences in eco-friendly wooden cabins surrounded by nature.
Buses, Trains, and Cycling Trails in Slovenia
- Slovenia has an efficient public transportation system that includes buses, trains, and electric vehicles. In addition, the country has bike-sharing programs and a well-developed network of cycling trails, including the famous Parenzana Trail that stretches from Italy to Croatia. The capital city, Ljubljana, has been recognized as the European Green Capital for its efforts in promoting sustainable transportation.
Locally Sourced Ingredients in Slovenia
- Slovenia is known for its delicious organic and locally sourced food. The country has a strong tradition of small-scale farming, which ensures the quality of its food. Some of the eco-friendly restaurants in Slovenia include Hiša Franko in Kobarid, which serves traditional Slovenian dishes made with locally sourced ingredients.
Hiking and Wildlife Watching in Slovenia
- Slovenia offers a range of sustainable activities for visitors to enjoy, including hiking and wildlife watching. The country has 24 natural parks and reserves, including the Triglav National Park, which is home to the highest peak in Slovenia. Visitors can also go on guided eco-tours to explore the country’s diverse landscapes and wildlife.
Slovenia’s Efforts to Reduce Waste and Promote Recycling
- Slovenia has made significant efforts to reduce waste and promote recycling. The country has one of the highest recycling rates in Europe, with more than 80% of waste being recycled or reused. Visitors can help by using reusable water bottles and bags, and by properly disposing of their waste.
Ecuador’s Plan for Good Living
- Ecuador is taking significant steps to shift towards renewable energy sources. The country’s National Plan for Good Living aims to produce 90% of electricity from renewable sources by 2050. The San Cristobal Wind Farm and the Coca-Codo Sinclair Hydroelectric Plant are examples of such renewable energy projects.
Eco-Friendly Travel Options in Ecuador
- Ecuador is home to the first carbon-neutral city in Latin America, called “Cuenca”. But there are several sustainable tourism initiatives across the country that promote eco-friendly travel. The community-based tourism project in the Cotopaxi National Park, for example, involves local communities in tourism activities while also conserving the park’s biodiversity. The Mashpi Lodge, located in the cloud forests of Ecuador, is an eco-lodge that is built with sustainable materials and is committed to minimizing its impact on the environment.
Ecuador’s Protected Areas and Wildlife Conservation
- Ecuador has established several protected areas to conserve its diverse ecosystems. The Galapagos Islands, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to several unique species, including the Galapagos Giant Tortoise. The Yasuni National Park, located in the Amazon rainforest, is another protected area that is home to several indigenous communities and a diverse array of flora and fauna.
Ecuador’s Public Transportation and Electric Systems
- Ecuador has an extensive public transportation system that includes buses and trains. Many of these vehicles are powered by natural gas, which is a cleaner and more sustainable fuel source than traditional gasoline. The country has also invested in electric transportation, such as the electric trolleybus system in Quito.
Ecuador’s Zero Waste Programs
- Ecuador has implemented several programs to reduce waste and promote recycling. One example is the “Recicla Quito” program, which provides incentives for residents to recycle and properly dispose of their waste.
Building a Greener Future in Ecuador
- Ecuador has implemented several green building practices, such as using sustainable materials and reducing energy consumption. One example is the “Isla Verde” project in Quito, which features sustainable buildings that are designed to minimize their impact on the environment.
Sustainable travel is not just a trend, but a way of life. And when it comes to sustainable tourism and budget-friendly travel, there are plenty of options available. As a responsible traveler, I believe that we have the power to shape the world we live in, one trip at a time. By visiting destinations like Portugal, Slovenia, Ecuador, Morocco, Colombia, Thailand, and Costa Rica, we can not only support the local communities and economies but also contribute to the preservation of the environment and cultural heritage. From the vibrant streets of Lisbon to the lush rainforests of Costa Rica, sustainable tourism offers a chance to connect with nature, immerse ourselves in new cultures, and make a positive impact on the world.