Despite the global economic downturn, every year many people are still finding ways to get out of the country and enjoy a vacation to some far-flung foreign locale. In fact, according to data compiled by GrabStats, the travel industry has seen an overall increase in revenue every year since 2008. This is a good thing, as there’s nothing better for recharging the batteries while taking in culture than a foreign vacation. But more and more, a new concept is gaining traction among global vacationers: sustainable travel.
Sustainable travel may seem like a new-agey concept on paper, but all it really does is celebrate ethical travel that benefits locals. Also, it’s increasingly important for many travelers to support responsible governments that promote human rights and environmental causes. And there’s no shortage of locations around the world that meet this criteria.
With that in mind, here are some top global destinations compatible with the notion of responsible travel:
When most Americans think of Barbados, they think of a Caribbean playground for the richest of the rich. Actually Barabdos appeals to a wide range of travelers. For example, some of the best surfing in the region can be found on the coastline of this island. The government is also diligent in their environmental programs – such as Barbados’ recent push for a green-based economy.
This is another popular foreign destination U.S. tourists have been visiting for years. But there’s good reason to keep going, as Costa Rica recently outlawed shark finning and rejected the proposal of a dam that would have wreaked havoc on their lush rainforests. Costa Rica also boasts 20 national parks, which is a big draw for those travelers with ecotourism on the mind. And the Pacific-coast surfing could certainly be worse.
Those countries that want to be an ecotourism powerhouse on par with Costa Rica have to be pioneers, and that’s just what Ghana is doing: pioneering. Besides their myriad parks – perfect for trekking and bird watching — the government levies taxes on activities that negatively impact the environment, such as the manufacture of single-use packaging.
For a long-time Uruguay was mostly popular with Argentine tourists looking for a summer holiday in the country next door. But in recent years many American have begun to flock to this small South American country to experience the fine surfing. But now that the Uruguayan government is throwing its full weight into the sustainability of its agriculture industry there are more and more reasons to go. Kayaking and birding, for example, are big tourist draws that compete with the epic surf.
One of the more “micro” of Micronesia’s islands, this top scuba destinations in the world. Like Costa Rica it banned shark finning, and the airport charges a $35 tax that goes to fund environmental programs.
These are just a few places around the globe travelers can visit for a great time with a clear conscious. In fact, each entry on this list ranks among Berkley-based non-profit Ethical Traveler’s annual list of the best sustainable travel destinations throughout the world.
About the Author:
Ken Ripoll is the founder of AllstarPassports.com, a Los Angeles passport expediter specializing in passport renewals and visas to China.