Green destinations leading the way
When it comes to sustainable tourism, we can certainly do our bit to be a good citizen of the world: offset our carbon emissions, pick up our litter and the like. But the big changes happen on a national level, with creative ideas, smart schemes and chunks of funding helping to preserve the planet. That’s why it’s become fascinating to watch countries enter uncharted territory and shift their focus on ways of becoming more sustainable.
From free public transport in Luxembourg to jail time in Kenya if you’re seen with a plastic bag, there’s so many small and significant things that destinations can do to be green. All in all, it’s a neat showcase of measures that can be taken – take note, countries who aren’t doing very much.
So which destinations are paving the way, and how are they helping the planet? The Citybond team pick out five examples of model countries rising up to the challenge.
When it comes to the bottom line, it turns out Switzerland is the greenest planet in the world. It topped the most recent Environmental Performance Index, which marks countries according to their sustainable and green cred. It boasts a high recycling rate (53 per cent), and it helps that the country isn’t short of a penny or two to preserve its picturesque lakes, mountains and forests. It also led the way in showing the world how to look after its water; back in 2005, 95% of the Swiss population was connected to a sewage treatment plant. With its excellent environmental record, we can enjoy the delights of hotspots like Geneva, Zurich and St Gallen guilt-free.
When it comes to smart little touches that add up to a big difference, we look to Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark and a city that aims to be carbon-neutral by the rapidly-approaching date of 2025. How’s it managing to offset its 2 million tonnes of carbon a year? Alongside major works like improving their cycling routes and smarter heating and cooling, it’s making sure that green thinking is embedded in daily life. As a tourist, you can take part in a cycle tour of some of the city’s main sustainability hotspots, rent a kayak that you pay for by collecting rubbish on the harbour, or dine at a sustainable fine dining restaurant like Amass, an ecologically-sound restaurant from a former Noma head chef. It’s a much-needed reminder that sustainability is easy when it’s supported by society.
As one of the smallest countries in Europe, perhaps it’s one of the easiest to make changes. And what a change they’ve just introduced; at the start of March, public transport became totally free to use. Previously, passengers would need a flat €2 ticket, but now it’s open to all. That’s big news for its 600,000 residents, and bigger news for its 1.2 million tourists. The new scheme aims to help ease traffic congestion in the country, reduce its carbon footprint and help social equality. Critics argue that it doesn’t solve Luxembourg’s main issue of long commutes and pricey housing, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction – and one that makes us eager to see its attractions like its Grand Ducal Palace, medieval streets and mountainous landscapes.
Home of the otherworldly Maasai Mara - great plains of lions, wildebeest, zebra, leopards, cheetahs and elephants that give the world’s best safariing opps – it’s no wonder Kenya wants to do all it can to help preserve the country and the planet. Not only does it ban plastic bags, but it’s so strict with the policy that offenders can be jailed or heavily fined. It’s also aiming to become fuelled by 100 per cent green energy by the end of the year, and vowing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent by 2030. Its indigenous Maasai people do their part too, but there are no laws or initiatives needed for that. Looking after their environment is simply part of their culture - and shouldn’t it be ours too?
Balearic Islands, Spain
The Balearic Islands of Menorca and Mallorca take smart measures to ensure its sustainability. That’s especially important because many tourists come for the beaches and…well, stay for the beach hotels. To make sure that visitors contribute to the overall health of the islands, they ask for a €4 per night tax, which is spent on projects to preserve the environment and its cultural heritage, and encourage sustainable tourism. Its most recent projects are for revamped halls for Menorca’s music conservatory and the Balearic Symphony Orchestra. Both projects open their doors to the public in 2022, but even before then, visitors will find 225 improvements from the €340million of funds raised since 2016.
Wherever you plan on heading to this year, it’s good to know that Citybond Suretravel is committed to providing you with the highest level of protection to ensure you are safe and secure 24 hours a day when away.
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