As the climate change message has become increasingly urgent over the past decade eco-tourism has made its way up the agenda.
In some destinations you’ll find a whole host of eco-friendly travel businesses, from hotels to tours, while other locations are simply dedicated to protecting their own unique corner of the world. Wherever you’re visiting there’s bound to be ways to travel more responsibly, so it’s vital to research ahead of time.
The Flexicover team has decided to help you out too with this handy list of our favourite eco-friendly destinations.
If the otherworldly scenery of Iceland has been perched atop your bucket list for some time now, good news - there’s no need to feel guilty about visiting. Indeed, Iceland is the cleanest energy consumer in the world, helped by the geothermal energy right under its ground. What’s more, there are plenty of ways to reduce your carbon footprint further. It’s easy to explore the country on foot, bike or horseback instead of going everywhere by car. There are also plenty of camping options, which is more eco-friendly than staying in a big hotel. Imagine falling asleep under the magical Northern Lights, or unzipping your tent to a vista of dramatic mountains. Saving the planet doesn’t sound like a chore now, does it?
Slovenia is famed for its breathtaking scenery and invigorating hikes but did you know it’s also got some seriously strong eco credentials? Around three-quarters of Slovenia’s energy is derived from hydroelectric dams and Ljubljana was voted the 2016 European Green Capital. Worried about increasing your carbon footprint while getting from A to B in the Slovenian capital? Don’t lose too much sleep over it: just hop on the urban electric train, or a natural gas-powered bus. There are plenty of ways to connect with your love for the planet in Slovenia too, including visiting one of the nation’s eco-friendly farms that offer visitors an insight into local life.
Bhutan might be a little off-piste for most travellers but if eco-travel is important to you what could be better than visiting a country that absorbs more carbon than it emits? The Buddhist kingdom has a law that ensures at least 60 per cent of the country must remain forested. It’s also deliberately developed its tourist industry slowly to protect both its natural resources and local cultures. Visitors have to pay a steep tourist tax of $250 (£192) per person per day in high season. But this fee includes accommodation, transport, food and an official guide - a prerequisite for visiting Bhutan. That way, the money is put back into communities through homestays and the employment of local guides.
Thanks to Lord of the Rings New Zealand’s epic natural beauty is not exactly a secret. And if you live in a country with otherworldly fjords, subtropical forests, glaciers and volcanic plateaus you’re going to want to protect this beauty for generations to come. It’s unsurprising then that almost one-third of the country’s land has been allocated as national parks, reserves and heritage sites, including Mount Cook National Park, Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Reserve and Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve. What’s more, many of the hoteliers of New Zealand are up on the importance of environmentally-friendly tourism, with a plethora of innovative eco-lodges available to book for your trip.
Scotland is one of the world’s greenest countries with government policy linking its economy to environmental initiatives; wind turbines have proved a particular success. And it’s no surprise that a country at the forefront of international action on climate change would also have a strong focus on eco-tourism. Scottish businesses with strong environmental and sustainability credentials are awarded Green Tourism Status (an accreditation developed by VisitScotland and Green Business UK). By staying, eating and drinking at Green Tourism establishments it’s super easy to ensure your trip has as little negative impact on the planet as possible. What’s more, the rugged Highlands provide a spellbinding setting for a bike ride or hike - no cars needed.
Wherever you plan on heading to this year it’s good to know that Flexicover Travel Insurance is committed to providing you with the highest level of protection to ensure you are safe and secure 24 hours a day when away.