Known for lush rainforests, rugged mountains, volcanoes, rich wildlife and endless beaches, the Central American country of Costa Rica has been the pioneer when it comes to sustainable tourism. The country has has been the leader when it comes to protecting natural environment and wildlife, along with protecting cultures across the lush and pristine rainforest landscape and beaches.
The country established Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST) in 1997, to provide guidelines for the tourism industry. The purpose of the program is to promote the best sustainable practices, so the management and impact of the natural, cultural and social resources across the country are protected. The program also meets the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) criteria, and has obtained formal recognition for re-gaining GSTC-Recognized status.
Through various conservation programs and policies implemented, the country rich in nature, has been able to reverse deforestation. With forests being restored by approximately 25% over the last 30 years. The additional benefit achieved with the deforestation programs, is providing financial incentives to landowners to protect their forest lands, so a win win for both the environment and local economies and livelihoods.
With tourism being the primary industry in Costa Rica, ecotourism has been encouraged and promoted each and every year. A combination of conservation and local community involvement, has resulted in an increased awareness with locals, environmental education initiatives to children, recycling schemes and reduction in poverty.
It’s easy to see why Costa Rica has been the leader in sustainable travel for such a long period of time, and it’s values which travellers appreciate and what to explore when they visit the country.
Nestled in the Himalayas in Southern-Central Asia, the landlocked Buddhist country of Bhutan has a long term strategy of sustainable tourism. Being the first country in the world to be carbon negative, it prides itself in focusing on protecting and persevering the countries heritage.
With a “high-value, low-volume” sustainable policy, Bhutan controls tourism numbers by charging a Sustainable Development Fee (SDF), which enables programs to sustain cultural traditions, environmental protection and infrastructure developments. The country believes in the “pay it forward” concept which future travellers will benefit from.
The country even measures the Gross National Happiness (GNH) of the Bhutanese population. The framework uses an analysis of the nations wellbeing and sustainable approach to achieve a balanced development in areas of life.
Bhutan’s government established the Tourism Council, which has contributed to creating income opportunities for locals and privately owned businesses. Even though the majority of Bhutan’s live in rural areas, income from tourism activities have provided economic benefits for most of the population other directly or indirectly.
Rich in forests, mountains, lakes, thermal springs and culture, the Central European country of Slovenia is not only green in its natural environment, yet also green in its sustainable frameworks.
Declared as the first green destinations in the world by Green Destinations, Slovenia has since had several locations within the country declared as green destinations under its belt of achievements.
The Slovenian Tourist Board continually strives for a green country, by offering destinations and providers with tools to operate sustainably. As part of the countries Green Scheme by Slovenian Tourism, tourism based activities can be evaluated to provide certification for those with meet certain sustainable criteria.
Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia, in 2022 received Platinum status under the Slovenia Green scheme, for its continual efforts for sustainable development in the city. Such achievements include a 12 hectare car-free zone introduced in 2008, being a bike friendly city, hight waste separation management program, and a 540sqm inhabitant green area to name a few initiatives.
Following the green theme, travellers are encouraged to participate in cultural activities such as culinary delights of beer experiences and food tours, so visiting Slovenia is a delight to all your senses.
Home of over 100,000 lakes and over 24,000 islands, the lush forest country of Sweden is the largest country by area in Northern Europe.
With it’s open landscapes, you can understand why Sweden like to maximise the natural environment, with “Allemansrätten” meaning The Right of Public Access, which allows people to freely explore the countryside. The freedom is on the basis of “Don’t disturb – Don’t destroy” by Swedish Environmental Protection, to ensure responsibly of nature and wildlife is protected.
For many years the Scandinavian country has received a profound list of sustainable accolades, with 2021 being a great year for the country. Based on seven sustainability pillars, Sweden ranked number 1 in 2021 from Euromonitor International’s Sustainable Travel Index, for it’s nature based experiences, vast National parks, renewable energy public transportation options and sustainable certification program for providers. Also in 2021 Gothenburg being named the World’s Most Sustainable City. It’s obvious the country is strongly focused on sustainable travel principals.
Sweden introduced Nature’s Best, an eco-tourism charter label in 2002, which allows tourism providers to be certified in sustainable practices across six basic criteria. The program foundation encompasses the three main sustainable pillars of people/social, planet/environment, and profit/economic.