At a time when sustainability is increasingly a concern in all sectors of society, defining what is an ecological and sustainable destination is a difficult task.
While some countries, such as Costa Rica, have a sustainability strategy, not only for tourism but for all of the country’s operations, many places are still taking the first steps in implementing measures to protect the environment and communities.
Given the different rhythms that characterize the world, we have created a list where we present some countries and the different ways in which sustainable tourism and the positive impact of travellers are being addressed.
Nepal, like many Asian countries, is one of the most polluted countries in the world. How does this destination then land on the list of sustainable destinations to travel to? Regions such as natural parks and restricted areas have been developing grand plans for sustainability, not only in awareness but also in practice, to clean up areas and educate the local population.
Entry fees in the trekking regions in the Himalayas, with various checkpoints along the way, and direct investment in cleaning and conservation of local flora and fauna species. Restricted areas, on the other hand, have strict rules, in which the potential of garbage that each one carries is checked, and it is verified at the exit if that same garbage is moved out of that zone.
At the political level, things get complicated, but the government tries to introduce some measures to encourage a decrease in pollution. The rates for fuel vehicles are substantially higher than electric cars, the ban on driving cars for over 20 years, the restriction on movement in certain areas. However, a trip to the country is enough to check that these rules are hardly updated … Kathmandu is a very polluted area, but conservation and reserve areas have made significant strides towards sustainability. It’s to wait for the whole country to follow suit!
China still falls on the bottom of the list of the most polluted countries in the world, but what is essential now is talking about the work, investment and rapid positive results that China has had in transforming its economy orienting it towards sustainability. The current reality lies essentially under a general incentive for investments that promote and protect the environment (more than 13 trillion EUR, specifically), free taxation on zero-emission vehicles, reduction of the use of coal – dismantling all the industries that consumed this type of fuel, reversing almost the smog in the big cities; or even the transformation of the former Ministry of Environmental Protection into the new Ministry of Ecology and Environment.
Examples in technology, an app called “Ant Forest” was created, gamifying the carbon footprint was designed to educate the overall population on the sustainability subjects. With more than 280 million subscribers to date, this app has already helped reduce 1.22 million tons of CO2!
As travellers, travelling to a country that is changing both its sustainability policies end up contributing not only to the economy but also to sustainability education.
This country hanging on the Himalayan edge is one of the destinations that most works towards sustainability, both environmental and cultural. With a daily tourist fee of 250USD per person, the profits of the same revert directly to the preservation of the country’s natural resources, as well as the maintenance of its infrastructure and cultural heritage. The rate ultimately drives away many travellers, making it also one of the least visited countries in the world, and this helps to preserve the local nature and culture. However, this rate includes expenses such as accommodation, transportation, local guide and even food, so it is a lot more reasonable than what it sounds like.
47.3% of the entire area of Bhutan is considered a protected area. This makes Bhutan the 4th largest protected area country in the world! It is also the only country that has a law that ensures that at least 60% of the territory is forested, making it one of the few countries to eliminates more CO2 than it uses. Today, Bhutan has more than 70% of its area fully forested.
Mongolia is, in fact, an ecological disaster, especially in the winter, when most families use coal to heat their homes and gers. But worthy of standing on this list, for having projects such as Hustai National Park NGO, an extensive reserve that recreates the perfect conditions for the reintroduction of the Takhi horse into the wild. This is the only horse breed that has never been domesticated by man, and that had been officially declared extinct in Mongolia in the 1960s. The Hustai NP NGO project began in the 1990s, with the introduction of only 18 horses into the reserve. By 2018, the number is proudly almost reaching 400 horses, and growing!
Travelling to Mongolia and visiting places like the Hustai NP NGO is to help sustain these exemplary projects, and perhaps expect others to follow suit. The Hustai NP NGO not only helps the Takhi horse population but also supports the local community by creating jobs and investigation sites.