Travel

Eco-Travel Trends & Sustainable Destinations

eco-travel-trends-&-sustainable-destinations

Going green is no longer optional. The great climate revolution is underway and travel in particular is under the microscope. One of life’s best rules of thumb can be applied in ecotourism to great effect: do less, do it better. But with a world of wonder to discover and more travel temptations than ever on offer, once the earth is on the move again, how do we make our holidays more eco-friendly? For some food for thought, we bring you 2021’s biggest eco-travel trends…

What IS Sustainable Tourism?

Eco-Travel Trends 2021

The Road Less Travelled

To combat the damaging impact of over-tourism, choose locations and travel times that fall outside of peak popularity and overlook crowded tourist traps in favour of discovering cool new gems and hidden wonders waiting to be explored. The school holidays are obviously a logistical nightmare for avoiding the crowds, but do you need to follow the hordes to your usual coastal bolthole, or would the kids prefer a week camping (or glamping, should you rather) on the Welsh border?

Get Outdoors

Speaking of camping, al fresco holidaying is one of the eco-friendliest ways to enjoy a holiday. Camping typically uses far fewer resources than any other type of accommodation (particularly true off-grid camping) and with the demand for more eco-friendly holiday options, there are more camping and glamping options than ever.

Slow Travel

Sustainable travel is all about resisting the urge to cram as many trips as possible with micro trips and long-haul hops and spend longer in your chosen destination really getting to know the place. Opt for a cycling tour over taxi rides, or make the journey to your destination part of the trip with a luxe train journey or boat trip. Think fewer, more immersive holidays per year rather than whirlwind visits to multiple destinations.

Live Like a Local

Once you’re on holiday lower your carbon footprint during your stay by avoiding imported foods, souvenirs and other imports and do your best to ‘live like a local’. Visit restaurants with farm to fork and zero waste practices rather than those that fly in ingredients from all over the world. There are even ways you can give back to the local community you’re visiting, whether it’s by taking part in a Pack for a Purpose initiative, where you use some of your luggage allowance to carry vital supplies to areas in need, or joining in with local conservation or beach cleaning schemes in between sun worshipping sessions.

For more ways to live like a local, check out our round-up of eco-friendly resorts below.

How To Avoid Greenwashing When Travelling

Tourism for Good

As greener travel becomes increasingly important, the big players in the industry are leading the way. Preferred Hotel Group, Inc has announced the launch of new sustainable hotel brand Beyond Green. Launching with a global portfolio of 24 founding member hotels, resorts and lodges, sustainable tourism will be at the heart of everything it offers. Lindsey Ueberroth, CEO of Preferred Hotel Group, Inc said: “Never before has there been a greater need to promote a kinder and gentler way to explore our beautiful, yet fragile planet. Driven by our brand promise, Believe in Travel, which guides every decision we make as a company, we believe that now is the time to go big and be bold as we look to the future of travel.” Beyond Green Travel founder Costas Christ said: “Sustainable tourism is not about giving something up, it is about gaining something more – a great vacation that it is also a force for good.” Beyond Green celebrates its launch in collaboration with 24 founding members located across 15 countries globally.

And it’s not just Beyond Green. More and more tour operators are promising to ‘give back’ to offset the damaging effects of tourism. Look for those going above and beyond carbon offsetting (surely there’s a limit to how many trees can be planted to negate our travel habits?) and seek those making a true, measurable impact on the communities and environments they are a part of. Red Savannah has launched Green Savannah to hammer home its eco initiatives, which include sponsorship of the Rainforest Trust UK, while Natural World Safaris launches Expeditions for Change, a new series of philanthropic safaris.

Read more in our Travel Trends guide

Svart Hotel

Svart, photo: Snøhetta Plompmozes Miris

The Future: Energy-Positive Hotels

For the ultimate in feel-good travel, seek the places making a real impact on how we use and produce energy. Svart in Norway’s Arctic Circle is set to open in 2022 as the world’s first energy-positive hotel, consuming 85 per cent less energy than a traditional hotel and positioned within a circular design to exploit the sun’s energy no matter the time of day or season, with Norwegian solar panels cladding the roof, produced using clean, hydro-energy. Now to find an energy-positive way of getting ourselves there in time for the opening…

Inspired to go green? Check out our edit of the ecotourism destinations and resorts getting it right, below.

Ecotourism: Eco-Travel Destinations 2021

Looking for the best ecotourism destinations on the planet? From UK hotels going green with biomass boilers and upcycling towel schemes to far-flung retreats created solely to preserve their local environment, these eco-travel accommodations are all worth adding to your bucket list. These are the ecotourism destinations, hotels and retreats getting it right… 

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South Africa: Grootbos Garden Lodge

South Africa: Grootbos Private Lodges

Situated in the Western Cape with a backdrop of ancient milkwood forests, the Grootbos Garden Lodgehas views that stretch down to the magnificent curve of Walker Bay, where it is possible to see whales basking off the shoreline. Each of its 11 freestanding suites is built from stone, wood, and thatch, with beautiful views from floor to ceiling windows and a private wooden deck. Grootbos is a world leader in sustainable tourism, with highlights including conserving, rehabilitating, and protecting the natural environment of the Western Cape region, ecological, educational, social, and scientific research to support the environment and local communities and developing sustainable and innovative solutions to tackle the issue of food insecurity. luxtripper.co.uk

THE SCARLET - MAR 2019 0002

UK: The Scarlet

If you want to stay closer to home for a more, well, eco eco-escape, look no further than north Cornwall’s The Scarlet, with solar panels, biomass boilers, eco-dining initiatives and upcycling towel programmes all upping its green credentials. Perched on a cliff top with breath-taking views, there are few places better positioned to consider the importance of protecting our glorious planet. scarlethotel.co.uk

Soneva Fushi

MALDIVES: Soneva

Soneva’s Namoona Baa initiative centres around an ‘eco-centro’ complex on the island of Maalhos, Maldives. Namoona Baa sees the islands of Maalhos, Dharavandhoo, and Kihaadhoo in the Baa Atoll pledging to end the open burning of island waste, a big step in the journey towards eco-friendly waste management. Each island will create an ‘eco-centro’ waste-to-wealth centre that will sort, recycle and reuse island waste. At Soneva Fushi, food and organic waste, metals, and bottles are chipped, ground down or composted, and turned into things of economic value, such as concrete building blocks and fertiliser. Plastic waste is either recycled or used to create useful new objects. soneva.com

Aristi Mountain Resort

GREECE: Aristi Mountain Resort

This award-winning eco lodge has multiple green policies in place, from wastewater reuse, zero plastic in room policies and energy consumption control. As well as protecting its environment (which happens to be spectacular mountains), the ecotourism resort encourages visitors to live like a local and try their hands at activities such as traditional carpet weaving at the Rizarios Handicraft School nearby. aristi.eu

Tanjong Jara

MALAYSIA: Tanjong Jara

There’s nothing that can make you feel like a local, rather than a guest, than taking responsibility for the mess you’re making on holiday. And when you start taking responsibility for other people’s messes, you know you’ve gone native. Don’t worry, there’s a full housekeeping service at Tanjong Jara Resort, but along with participating in the turtle protection programme, the resort encourages guests to join the conservation efforts offered by the hotel, including regular beach cleans on the surrounding beaches. Guilt-free sun worshipping here we come. tanjongjararesort.com

Azura Retreats

MOZAMBIQUE: Azura Retreats

As Mozambique celebrates its 45th anniversary of independence, guests of Azura retreats are encouraged to not only live like a local and immerse themselves in everyday life but make an impact on the lives of local children and families, too. A member of the Pack for a Purpose initiative, they encourage guests to save a few kilos of luggage space to take supplies for local schools and medical clinics. azura-retreats.com

Dharana at Shillim

INDIA: Dharana at Shillim

This ecotourism retreat and spa is located in the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Sahyadris mountain range in southern India. Guests are encouraged to take nature walks through the rice fields, bamboo plantations and organic gardens at Dharana at Shillim Estate, where everything is focused toward environmental sustainability and Ayurvedic wellness principles. shillim.in

The Montagu Arms

UK: The Montagu Arms

Guests at The Montagu Arms – part of The Green Tourism Business Scheme – can enjoy delicious seasonal, coast and country-inspired dishes at the hotel’s award-winning Terrace restaurant, headed up by Michelin-trained chef Matthew Whitfield. Here, home-grown sustainable produce is specially curated and picked by a resident kitchen gardener, only eggs from the hotel’s nest of rescue hens are used, and recipes have been tailored to minimise food waste as much as possible. Before and after meals, enjoy all of the stunning surrounding countryside the New Forest has to offer, or put your feet up in the hotel’s Thai spa located nearby at Careys Manor. montaguarmshotel.co.uk

For more UK Eco Staycations check out our edit

Kyambura Gorge Ecotourism Project, copyright Sinamatella

UGANDA: Kyambura Gorge Ecotourism Project

The Kyambura Gorge Ecotourism Project, in partnership with Uganda Wildlife Authority and Volcanoes Safaris, has been safeguarding the gorge’s fragile ecosystem for a decade. Known as the ‘Valley of the Apes’, this Ugandan wildlife hotspot is home to a rich wildlife bio-diversity including chimpanzees, red tailed monkeys, and black and white colobus monkeys. Guests at the Kyambura Gorge Lodge can experience a new series of walks for 2019, in the eco buffer zone and the wetland. volcanoessafaris.com

Eco Lifestyle Lodge

BARBADOS: Eco Lifestyle Lodge

Barbados as a whole is embracing sustainability, with a host of initiatives to protect our planet. As of this month, the importation, retail, sale and use of petro-based single-use plastic (plastic made from petroleum) is no longer allowed in Barbados. Carlisle Bay in the south west of Barbados is a marine-protected area, and home to the Eco Lifestyle Lodge, which features tropical gardens overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, an appealing farm and sea-to-table restaurant offering and rooms with furniture made from upcycled mahogany. ecolifestylelodge.com

The Eco Lodge, Chamonix

FRANCE: The Eco Lodge, Chamonix

This self-sufficient lodge has some serious ecotourism credentials, running completely on renewable energy. The lodge is built to passivhaus standard using green technology throughout, geothermal and solar-thermal systems providing the heating and solar panels producing enough energy to make the house zero emissions. The outdoor terrace features a sauna pod and a hot tub from which to enjoy mountain views of the beautiful planet that needs our protection. firefly-collection.com

Turtles and divers, andBeyond Oceans Without Borders

MOZAMBIQUE: andBeyond Oceans Without Borders, Vamizi Island

Through their Oceans without Borders initiative, andBeyond is turning its focus to marine conservation, using its three island properties (andBeyond Benguerra Island and andBeyond Vamizi Island in Mozambique, and andBeyond Mnemba Island off Zanzibar) to influence more than 3,000 km of Indian Ocean coastline. On the Oceans without Borders Small Group Trip from 9-14 October 2019, guests can embark on a privately guided 6-day experience and gain insight into the marine conservation and community development activities on the project. They will also have the chance to enjoy a dive on Neptune’s Arm, stand up paddle boarding and snorkelling (in between some beach time). The trip will be guided by Dr Tessa Hempson, one of the leading Marine Biologists in East Africa. The Oceans without Borders Journey costs from US$ 10,775 per person based on two sharing. andbeyond.com

Knai Bang Chatt, Kep

CAMBODIA: Knai Bang Chatt, Kep

Knai Bang Chatt, a boutique hotel on Kep Sur Mer on Cambodia’s South Coast, has been awarded a platinum ‘Green Growth’ certificate, and is the first Cambodian hotel to be recognised as internationally sustainable. Sustainable practices include significantly reducing the consumption of plastic packaging by sterilising and bottling drinking water in reusable glass bottles, using bio-degradable plastic bags, and drawing on its own bio diverse organic gardens to feed its guests. The resort also has a Sustainability Manager on site and offers tours to guests to highlight initiatives. knaibangchatt.com

Costa Navarino, Messinia, Greece, pool

GREECE: Costa Navarino

Sustainability and ecotourism is at the heart of everything Costa Navarino does, reflecting their commitment to responsibility for the local area. With policies in place to protect the undisturbed area of southern Greece, the resort adheres to strict environmental management guidelines, with environmental protection as a top priority, from construction and design through to operation. It is home to Europe’s largest olive grove transplantation program, preserving trees that have been part of the landscape for hundreds of years, there is a loggerhead sea turtle protection programme and it protects the habitat of the only European population of the African chameleon in Gialova lagoon. Furthermore, all properties use bioclimatic design and the whole resort has a wholly sustainable water system using only water that is naturally replaced. Green credentials aside, It’s one of our favourite family-friendly Greek holiday destinations. costanavarino.com

Mallorca 6

MALLORCA: Mallorca 6

One of the hottest destinations of 2019, if Mallorca is top of your list for a weekender this year, book into Mallorca 6, tucked between the Sierra Tramontana mountains and the Mediterranean sea on the north coast of the island. An eco-friendly self-sufficient home has its own solar panels and its very own organic vegetable patch. The villa also benefits from a natural and fully sustainable spring-fed plunge pool, which is constantly refreshed by water straight from the mountains meaning it’s completely chemical-free. thetopvillas.com

Villa Lena, Tuscany

ITALY: Villa Lena

Having re-opened this May, Villa Lena in Tuscany has been completely redesigned with a drive toward carbon neutrality. Largely powered by solar energy, a new light and rain pavilion will host a water recycling plant and collection system, re-using water and contributing to its sustainability. The villa also features a farm-to-table organic restaurant which benefits from the estate’s biodynamic agriculture programme. villa-lena.it


Find your next UK break with our Great British & Irish Hotels guide | Sustainable Dining: A Guide

Featured image: by MUHAMMED BEYROUTI

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