In an age where more people are becoming aware of how their lifestyles are impacting on the planet, it makes logical sense that these concerns have also extended to the way we travel.
Conscious travellers are opting out of the city bustle and seeking meaningful and enriching travel encounters with nature.
Welcome to the age of environmentally-friendly tourism, also known as eco-tourism; a way of travel that encourages authentic and immersive experiences with untouched wilderness whilst leaving as little an ecological footprint as possible.
Eco tourism provides travellers a chance to experience the world’s pristine natural wonderland, whilst helping them tread lightly on the planet. Unlike other forms of tourism, eco-tourism looks to preserve our natural environment rather than harm it. Thus ‘green’ hotel and travel accomodations consider the natural environment, local community and weaves sustainability initiatives into their operations. They may source locally-grown organic produce, have implemented recycling and composting programs to reduce landfill waste, launched conservation programs, use solar power or even tend their own vegetable garden.
One example of growing environmental consciousness within the global tourism industry is the increasing popularity of eco resorts. Travellers staying at an eco resort can expect comfortable and stylish accommodations that put the natural environment front and centre; from the way in which the resort itself has been sustainably designed such as incorporating the use of locally-sourced natural building materials to where the resort itself is located, built near a lush rainforest, atop a scenic mountain, on an island surrounded by coral reefs or near a wildlife reserve.
In addition, eco resorts offer outdoor activities that further encourage guests to fully immerse themselves in the environment. For example, many eco resorts in South Africa provide wildlife safaris as an activity option so that guests can revel in the spectacular African landscape whilst watching elephants, giraffes and hippos in their native habitats. If you’re considering a stay at an eco resort in Costa Rica - a destination that touts more trees per square kilometre than any other place on earth - you can fill your day with hiking, bird watching, fishing, rock climbing and horseback riding.
Here are some noteworthy eco-friendly resorts and hotels to add to your travel bucket list:
The designer collection of seven tree houses located in Sweden’s lapland region is simply known as Treehotel. The cabins are elevated 30 feet above ground and have been built with consideration of its natural surroundings, with floor to ceiling windows and skylights so that guests experience the very best of what nature has to offer. Guests also overlook the spectacular Lule River, have a brilliant vantage point of the Northern Lights and are fully enveloped by pine trees making the Treehotel one of the most popular green destinations in the world.
The award-winning Tongsai Bay Hotel along the northern coast of Thailand was built on a luscious 28 acres and is home to more than 60 different species of wildlife. What makes this eco hotel remarkable, aside from its breathtaking views, is that it grows 100% of its produce and composts all food waste, turning it into fertiliser for its on-site gardens.
Designed with sustainability in mind, the Casa Xixim eco resort in Tulum Mexico is ideal for modern travellers wishing to enjoy nature without giving up their sense of style and preference for luxurious surroundings. The resort incorporates permaculture principles, using constructed wetlands for wastewater treatment, harvesting its own rain water and the growing native plant species for roof insulation.
Bali Eco Stay is a sustainable getaway located in the mountains of Tabanan, Bali. Perfect for the conscious traveller seeking eco luxe refuge away from the bustle of the main cities and overcrowded tourist spots. The eco bungalows are surrounded by a permaculture food forest, cascading waterfalls and heritage rice terraces. In addition, guests can enjoy freshly farmed and prepared Balinese cuisine with ingredients from its on-site organic gardens.
If the popularity of eco immersive tourism is anything to go by, there is hope of preserving our natural environment so that at the very least travellers can continue to be captivated by its peace, tranquility and overwhelming beauty for generations to come.
We want to know: Have you been to any stunning ecotourism spots? Share your stories and suggestions in the comments below.