Plan your next sustainable trip with Green Destinations!
Turn it sustainable with our tips!
10 october '22
Reading time: 7 minutes
Are you looking to travel but are not sure how to do it sustainably? Learn about Green Destinations – a nonprofit seeking to make travel sustainable. With certified sites across the world, Green Destinations has the perfect eco-friendly travel spots for your next trip!
Words by Rebekah Smith
Slovenia | Picture by Arnaud Steckle
Green Destinations is a global nonprofit organization that was born in the Netherlands to support sustainable locations, their businesses and communities. The company created a set of initiatives which help the average traveler or eco-friendly tourist find nearby destinations which support a responsible tourism industry.
What are "green destinations"?
The nonprofit’s core values can be found in the eco-friendly acronym G.R.E.E.N. They support destinations that are genuine, responsible and respectful, economically sustainable, environment and climate-friendly, and nature and scenery-friendly. But let’s break that down a little more.
G.R.E.E.N. destinations are genuine; they support authentic celebration of local culture and tradition. They are responsible and respectful, avoiding exploitation of people in tourism and preventing overtourism. They are economically sustainable by involving local businesses and enhancing employment within their communities. These locations are environment and climate-friendly; they work to ensure public health while combating the climate crisis, environmental degradation and pollution. Lastly, green destinations are nature and scenery-friendly by protecting scenic views, landscapes, natural habitats and wildlife.
According to Green Destinations, they “[believe] that peace, universal human rights, and social and environmental justice are fundamental pillars of sustainable tourism.”
Picture by Green Destinations
The nonprofit determines whether tourist locations are sustainable based on their carefully-crafted certification standards. Sustainable destinations must meet or exceed the Green Destinations standard, which covers six main themes: 1. destination management, 2. nature, animals and scenery, 3. environment and climate, 4. culture and tradition, 5. social well-being, and 6. business and hospitality. These locations must also maintain or exceed routine check-ups per the nonprofit.
Green Destinations’ awards and certifications are given to destinations which meet at least 60% of their standard. The Bronze Award is given to locations which are 60-69% sustainable. The Silver Award is given to locations which are 70-79% responsible, and the Gold Award is given to those which are 80-89%. Green Destinations Platinum Award is given to those which are at least 90% eco-friendly.
Why are green destinations important?
In order to save the planet, we must start within our local communities. Part of Green Destinations’ mission is to persuade travelers to visit local sustainable destinations. The nonprofit also trains locations to become more economically, environmentally and socially responsible. By prioritizing training and traveling within our local communities, we can help our regions of the world become more sustainable and responsible.
Portugal| Picture by Pixabay
Where are green destinations?
Green Destinations works with over 400 locations and 60 countries to support sustainable tourism. Looking for eco-friendly places to visit across the world? Let’s look at some responsible areas that might be near you.
1. Europe houses more than 50 certified green destinations. Fiskars Village in Finland is a favorite for its commitment to arts and crafts, nature, organic cuisine and locally-sourced drinks. Norderney, Germany, is another great destination if you’re looking for beautiful, sandy beaches and marine life. The small island hosts annual sports and traditional music for visitors of all ages. Home to the Wadden Sea National Park, you can experience over 4,000 species of plants and animals. The island also produces its own electricity through more sustainable methods like solar power, combined heat and power plants, and they are acutely aware of waste management. Berg en Dal, Netherlands, is another gorgeous, green destination in Europe. The area sources wine from local vineyards and has its own unique set of natural landscapes, wildlife and historical monuments.
2. Asia is home to nearly 20 green destinations. Kyoto is the ancient capital of Japan. It is rich in mountains and forests, and the city hosts traditional festivals across local communities. Okinawa, Japan. is the birthplace of karate, home to the world-famous sea and is a beautiful place to visit on your next responsible trip. The island is surrounded by coral reefs, sandy beaches and marine life. Nan Old City, Thailand, is a tranquil city on the border of Laos that is famous to Thai tourists. The city oozes culture and tradition, and it was selected as one of Green Destinations’ Top 100 sustainable destinations in 2020.
3. There are nearly 10 sustainable tourist areas in Africa. North Island is a secluded white beach in Seychelles where conservation and sustainability are at the core of the tourism industry’s philosophy. The ≠Khoadi-//Hôas Conservancy in northwest Namibia is another gorgeous location characterized by volcanic remains. The area is home to a wide range of wildlife and was named one of Green Destinations’ Top 100 sustainable destinations in 2020.
Namibia | Picture by Roger Brown
4. Together, the USA and Canada house five sustainable tourist destinations. Brevard in Transylvania County, North Carolina, is a classic American small town in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Nicknamed “Land of the Waterfalls”, Transylvania County offers a variety of mountains, forests and hiking trails. There are more than 100,000 acres of public land, including national forests, to explore on foot or bike! Breckenridge and Vail, Colorado are also gorgeous destinations in the Rocky Mountains, USA, and they are home to many wildlife, including moose, bears, elk, deer and more! Thompson Okanagan in British Columbia is home to rich Indigenous history, sunny valleys and grasslands interconnected by water. The area is committed to protecting their natural and cultural resources for all to enjoy.
5. Latin America is home to nearly 20 green destinations. The country of Guyana is a beautiful place to find mountains, rainforests and deserts! Sustainability is becoming an important element of Guyana Ecotravel, as they center on serving local communities, conserving wildlife, maintaining cultural traditions and adopting renewable energy sources. Bonaire in the Dutch Caribbean is another area which offers mountain peaks and pristine beaches. As the first Blue Destination in the world, Bonaire focuses on the life of their local culture and traditions, as well as nature preservation and environmental protection.
6. In the world of Oceania, there are six destinations that promote sustainable values and responsible tourism! Plan a trip down under to visit gorgeous islands like Lord Howe Island in Australia or Bay of Plenty in New Zealand. Niue Island, off the coast of New Zealand, is rich in coral, caves and swimming coves, and it was named one of Green Destinations’ Top 100 sustainable destinations in 2020!
If you’re looking to plan a sustainable trip, visit Green Destinations’ online Good Travel Guide for more ideas and information on areas of the world that promote responsible ecotravel.