In recent years, a heightened awareness of our impact on the environment meant it was inevitable that the tourism industry would soon start to reflect the public mood. Although we’re not yet at a place where companies can offer budget holidays are entirely geared around environmental concerns (such as Thomas Cook cheap package holidays), attitudes are definitely turning greener, and package holiday providers are beginning to cater for the eco-minded. To give you some idea of where the most environmentally-friendly destinations can be found, we’ve compiled a list…
Historically renowned for the more typical allure of sunny beaches, Brazil has recently started to emerge as a favourite among eco-travellers. Conserving the world’s most biodiverse eco system, the Amazon basin, is an obvious attraction. Eco-friendly hotels and resorts abound, reflecting the national desire for preserving the natural world. In fact, 85% of domestic electricity use comes from renewable sources so, whilst it may take a few emissions to fly there, once in Brazil, your carbon footprint will immediately shrink.
Sticking with South America, Costa Rica has a reputation as one of the most eco-friendly nations on earth. It boasts a number of wildlife reserves and ecologically sound hotels. It’s obviously working for them – Costa Rica tops the Happy Planet Index (HPI) as established by the New Economics Foundation (NEF). They report the highest life satisfaction in the world, and yet have an ecological footprint four times smaller than Americans (whom they live longer than too!). The NEF reckons Costa Rica only narrowly fails to achieve a state of ‘one go live there!
Ok, Paris, in its entirety, cannot lay claim to being tres verte, but the Hotel Gavarni can. Handily located close to the Eiffel Tower, it is the only Parisian hotel to be awarded the prestigious European Ecolabel. Green features include rubbish bags hewn from potato starch, hazard-free detergents and flow-reducing showers to the standard renewable electricity sources. There may not be quite the green glow coming off Paris as there is from San Jose, but at least you can travel from London by train, jotting up considerably less carbon black marks against your name than you would jetting across the Atlantic.
Thanks to its proximity to the National Marine Park of Zakynthos, established to protect the local flora and fauna, the beach at Gerakas is a conservationists dream. In particular, the centre looks after the loggerhead sea turtle, providing accommodation for volunteers who wish to help clean up the beach and monitor these fascinating creatures.
More turtles, this time in the Carribean. Between April and September, some 600 leatherback turtles come ashore to lay eggs. You can take part viewings – closely monitored by local conservationists - and stay at an eco-lodge powered by wind and solar energy, eating local food.