25 Places Plotting A Greener Future
Wanderlust Travel Magazine|May/June 2021
While travel’s on hold, enlightened destinations are looking towards more responsible forms of tourism. We look at those vowing to build back better…
Holly Tuppen

1 Arizona adventure hub puts residents first

USA

The small city of Sedona, which sits amid Arizona’s spectacular buttes, canyons and pine forests, had the classic problem of many similar tourism gateways: horrendous over-crowding during peak season. But since 2019, it has worked with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council to establish how residents and visitors can co-exist. The plan includes no-fly zones over residential areas for helicopter tours, improving walking-and-cycling routes and traffic flow, and better public transport. It also features the Sedona Cares Pledge, which asks tourists to be mindful of their noise, leave no trace, minimise water use and be caring and considerate at all times. visitsedona.com/sustainable-tourism-plan

2 Okanagan goes organic

CANADA

The laidback Okanagan Valley is often overlooked in favour of British Columbia’s showier headline acts like the Rockies and Vancouver Island. But that’s missing a trick. This landscape of furrowed canyons, dense forest and semi-desert grasslands protects some of Canada’s most fragile biodiversity. Also, the region has long championed responsible tourism that works alongside communities, supporting local makers and producers along the way. The Okanagan is Canada’s primary wine-producing region and, in 2021, will be home to the largest percentage of organic wines in the world. At wineries such as Cedar Creek, which makes 27 organic wines, foraging and tasting experiences help visitors understand the organic transition. cedarcreek.bc.ca; hellobc.com

3 Tourist dollars stay local

COLOMBIA

The devastating effects of 2020’s travel pause have sparked a renewed drive to ensure that tourism revenue goes to locals rather than international companies. Two projects underway in Colombia are doing just that. Portia Hart, the owner of Blue Apple Beach Club, has launched an Insider’s Guide to Cartagena’s best locally-owned restaurants, bars and shops across the city’s colourful streets. Meanwhile, Much Better Adventures has been busy plotting off-the-beaten-track trips with Expedition Colombia, which helped save the Semana River from damming and has trained former FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) members in guiding. blueapplebeach.com; muchbetteradventures.com

4 Guernsey boosts on-foot adventures

CHANNEL ISLANDS

Meandering around the edges of five islands, the new Islands of Guernsey Way will help visitors appreciate the diversity of landscapes and wildlife across the bailiwick on foot. The 80kmish path ranges around Guernsey, Herm, Sark, Alderney and little Lihou, taking in everything from quaint Portelet Harbour, where wild waves blow in across thousands of miles of uninterrupted Atlantic, and the L’Eree Aerodrome – Guernsey’s first airfield, which is now the Colin Best Nature Reserve. A free app provides all the information needed to piece together an adventure, including commentary on history, culture and folklore, circular routes and buses. Visit Guernsey lists places to stay along the way. visitguernsey.com

5 Bison return to the Carpathians

ROMANIA

Europe is losing its wilderness: less than 2% of the continent remains in its original, natural state. One organisation on a mission to turn back time and restore the balance is Romania’s Foundation Conservation Carpathia (FCC), which hopes to make Romania a world-leading conservation success story. In 2020, the rewilding initiative took a giant leap forward with the reintroduction of over 20 bison to the FăgăraÈ™ Mountains, after more than 200 years since their disappearance. The bison provide a key role in ecosystem restoration, naturally churning up trees, plants and soils. Working directly with the FCC, Steppes’ Wildlife Conservation in Carpathia trip offers the opportunity to see the foundation’s work firsthand, and includes a £500 contribution to the project. carpathia.org; steppestravel.com

6 South American country creates colossal wildlife corridor

BELIZE

Bigcats such as jaguars are under threat throughout South and Central America since forest destruction reduces space for the apex predators to roam and hunt. Thanks to a protection order signed by the Belize Government in 2019, change is hopefully on the way. Connecting the protected landscapes of Belize’s Maya Mountains and the tri-national Maya Forest of Belize, Mexico and Guatemala, the Maya Forest Corridor will create the most extensive continuous stretch of jungle in Central America. Other animals that will benefit include spider monkeys, tapirs and river turtles. Help fund the conservation effort by staying at Monkey Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, which is part of the wildlife corridor and a critical not-for-profit partner of the vision. monkeybaybelize.com

7 Menorca slows down

SPAIN

Sun, sand and parties may spring to mind when thinking of Spain’s Balearic Islands, but a long-overdue image makeover is putting Ibiza, Menorca and Mallorca on the map for slower, greener trips. The entire island of Menorca is a designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, and a series of historic walking and horse-riding routes (Camí de Cavalls) has been revamped to lure visitors to places they wouldn’t usually go. Slow food is big on the agenda, too, especially since the island has been awarded the European Region of Gastronomy 2022 title. New trips and tours from Farmers Way and Slow Travel Menorca focus on the island’s fish, cheese, olive and wine heritage, supporting local producers and old-world farms with mindful production methods. slowtravelmenorca.com; farmersandco.es/farmers-way; menorca.es

8 The Canaries get serious about cetaceans

SPAIN

While it’s magical to see cetaceans in the wild, too much interference from noise, pollution and people can disorientate, stress and, in the worst cases, kill whales and dolphins. Several years ago the Canary Islands established a Blue Boat Badge scheme to help tourists identify wildlife tour providers that are conducting trips responsibly; the badge criteria were updated in 2020 to ensure the boats adhere to the latest ethical practices. In January 2021, the Tenerife-La Gomera marine area also became the first European destination to gain Whale Heritage Site status, making it one of the world’s most sustainable whale-watching spots. Wild Sea offers a collection of marine experiences across the Canary Islands that focus on education rather than exploitation. wildsea.eu

9 Locals reclaim Amsterdam

NETHERLANDS

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