While society has made leaps and bounds in recent years when it comes to understanding and protecting the environment through home recycling and the production of low emission cars, we still have a way to go when it comes to travel.
Just one long haul flight a year uses up the equivalent of an adult’s annual carbon emission allowance. So if we want to truly go green then that means taking our carbon foot print into consideration when planning family holidays.
While it can be hard to pin down an exact definition of eco-tourism, the International Ecotourism Society defines it as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well being of local people”.
Europe is an exciting and diverse continent that is taking eco-tourism seriously. Here are just some of the countries, cities and tourist attractions that are focused on giving holidaymakers a greener experience…
Glamping in Portugal
Switched-on luxury travel providers aren’t missing out on an eco-tourism trick either, giving camping the quality and service of five star hotels. ‘Glamping’ is popular in warmer Mediterranean countries such as Portugal, Italy and Spain, and offers a chance to explore the surrounding countryside, while enjoying luxuries such as personal chefs and guided walking tours.
Celestial Sightings in Sweden
Sweden’s Lapland region is a unique and stunning area, best explored by sled. Organised excursions using Siberian huskies, with winter camping thrown in, will offer a once in a lifetime experience. Lapland covers 25% of Sweden’s landmass but contains just 1% of its population, making it a beautiful and unspoiled region to explore. Travel between December and February to take advantage of Northern Lights sledding safaris, allowing you to see nature’s most famous light show at its best.
Volunteering in Spain
Travel to one of Spain’s most colourful and cosmopolitan cities and help to develop eco-tourism initiatives with GoEco. Barcelona hotels and hostels are brimming with life and when based in a country that can boast being the fourth largest provider of wind power in the world, it’s no wonder that they take an eco slant too. Volunteering opportunities include working in environmentally friendly hostels, promoting local eco-tourism or, if you want to get out of the city, you could travel an hour north to Girona, to volunteer at a wildlife conservation centre.
Go Wild in Scotland
Get back to nature with a wildlife tour in the rugged, unspoilt landscape of the Scottish highlands. This country is hot on eco-tourism and has a wealth of cycle paths, walking tours and wildlife watching programmes available, from bird watching to whale spotting.
Orca whales, seals, eagles and puffins are just a small selection of the creatures you could see, and many eco tour operators offer trips that combine both on- and off-shore exploration.
Have you been on an eco-friendly holiday? If so do you have any further recommendations for green holiday destinations?