In recent years, the impact of tourism on local communities and countries has been under the spotlight. But, as travel bounces back following the pandemic, destinations are committing to a more environmentally and socially responsible future. Those efforts have been captured in a fascinating new documentary series by Sustainable Travel International, which features, among others these six places doing their best to tackle the impact of tourism, in their own way.
Coulibri Ridge, Dominica
Deep in the coastal mountains of Dominica lies Coulibri Ridge, a low-impact, high-end resort demonstrating perfectly how technology and nature can work in harmony.
Before building on the resort commenced, the owners considered every detail, taking advantage of natural surroundings and enabling off-grid living, from the way the sun sets to the angle of the mountain. Solar panels harness the sun’s power to store energy for the day, wind turbines generate electricity, and rainwater is collected to provide water for the property. The resort is a beautiful example of how it’s possible to live off-grid whilst helping to build resilience to climate change.
In Australia’s Tropical North Queensland, where rainforest meets the reef, in the only place in the world where two UNESCO Natural World Heritage sites join, a handful of people are paving the way for sustainability. Establishments like Ochre restaurant craft their menus using foraged, regional produce, whilst establishments like Reef Magic lend a helping hand to support the long-term resilience of Moore Reef’s marine ecosystem. When coral fragments become loose, Reef Magic attach them to reef star structures that are then re-planted back into the ocean, increasing biodiversity, bringing back marine life, and increasing natural coral by over 50% in the years to come.
On land, deep in the Daintree rainforest, Mossman Gorge Cultural Centre is also doing its bit for the local community. This award-winning ecotourism facility offers the opportunity to learn about local Indigenous art and culture and gain a deeper understanding of the Aboriginal Kuku Yalanji land. It’s the perfect introduction to the Daintree rainforest, led by local Indigenous people who have lived in the area for centuries.
St Kitts, Caribbean
The Caribbean island of St. Kitts might only be small, but it’s making huge steps regarding sustainability. In 2005, government-owned sugar plantations closed down due to declining prices, making tourism the main economic driver, putting the island at risk of over-tourism and damaging its fragile ecosystem. Ever since, the St. Kitts Ministry of Tourism has put sustainability at the heart of its tourism strategy, partnering with Sustainable Travel International to manage tourism growth, protect its heritage and cultural sites, preserve wildlife, and raise awareness of the importance of eco-friendly tourism practices.
The programme trains locals to act as guardians of the island and its ecosystems, raises awareness around key issues like single-use plastics, and educates businesses on how to incorporate sustainable practices into their operations.
In 2021, Ljubljana nabbed the number one spot for the 20 Best Green Capitals in Europe, awarded by European Best Destinations. It’s the first European capital to commit to becoming zero-waste and has been practising waste management and sustainable urban planning and development for years.
Ljubljana Regional Waste Management Centre is the perfect example of regional integration and cooperation. Since it opened in 2015, it has serviced almost a quarter of Slovenia, using natural gas to produce electricity and heat. Separated waste is collected from households and extracted before being turned into high-quality compost and energy. 95% of the waste is processed into recyclable materials or fuel, meaning only 5% ends up in a landfill.
The city is also home to 306 kilometres of cycle paths, 17 hectares of car-free zones, the largest vehicle-free zone in the EU, and the highest percentage of green space per resident.
Denmark, Aarhus and Copenhagen
It might surprise you that two of the world’s top three sustainable holiday destinations are in Denmark. In Aarhus, everything is within walking distance, and bikes are free to rent, as are kayaks, where the only requirement is to collect any rubbish you find on the waterways. The city also provides its citizens with green biomass heating and electricity, and is working on renovating existing buildings to make them as energy-efficient as possible.
Copenhagen also hopes to become the first carbon-neutral capital by 2025. Cycling isn’t just a leisurely activity in the city, it’s a way of life, and there are approximately 400 miles of dedicated bike lanes winding through the city, reducing more than a third of all transportation fossil-fuel use, and ninety thousand tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year.
Copenhagen has also announced plans to redesign neighbourhoods, raising the sidewalks with asphalt previously used for roundabouts, and creating a temporary gutter system to drain water into the harbour when it floods.
Six Senses Ibiza
At Six Senses Ibiza, luxury accommodation is paired with sustainability, to create a hotel that respects nature with the environment at its core. Since 2016, there has been no use of plastic straws, and the hotel has been bottling their own drinking water in glass bottles, eliminating thousands of plastic bottles yearly.
The resort has been built using locally sourced materials, including natural stones from the island and wood from surrounding areas. 10% of the property’s energy is powered by renewable energy sources, with solar panels and a geothermal cooling system that cools the air conditioners throughout the hotel.
Six Senses Duoro Valley is home to a garden where most of the herbs and vegetables used in the kitchens across the Six Senses hotels are grown. The gardens use recycled, organic waste that is turned into healthy soil and, which produces more than 35 thousand kilograms of vegetables every year.
Every Six Senses property has an Earth Lab, a space dedicated to innovation and communicating the sustainable practices of each hotel. Every guest is encouraged to participate in activities like upcycling, extracting essential oils from herbs grown in the gardens, foraging, and farming.
Visit this hub to learn about the sustainability initiatives transforming tourism in other parts of the world.