ECO TRAVEL

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Travel that’s also pos­i­tive for the planet

The way we choose to spend our hol­i­day funds mat­ters and our choices have en­vi­ron­men­tal, as well as so­cial, im­pli­ca­tions. So much so that the United Na­tions made 2017 the Year of Sus­tain­able Tourism for De­vel­op­ment, an ini­tia­tive they hope will raise aware­ness and pro­mote the in­her­ent val­ues of dif­fer­ent cul­tures. This, they say, will con­trib­ute to the strength­en­ing of world peace.

So what should we bear in mind be­fore set­ting off? Mark Wat­son, Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor at Tourism Con­cern ( tourism­con­cern.org.uk), a UK char­ity cam­paign­ing for eth­i­cal and fair­trade tourism, says a lit­tle re­search goes a long way.

“If you are go­ing to travel and this causes en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact, then there’s got to be some ben­e­fit to that,” he says, urg­ing us to, for ex­am­ple, en­gage with lo­cal peo­ple and think about how our spend­ing can best sup­port them. What’s more, look into the po­lit­i­cal and cul­tural back­ground of the place you want to visit, learn a few words and con­sider your im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment, on an­i­mal wel­fare, on the lo­cal econ­omy and those who live there.

En­ter­ing these aspects into your plan­ning might lead you off the beaten track, but who says that is a bad thing? “If you go to a place where lo­cal peo­ple wel­come you and are paid a de­cent wage, where peo­ple are not hav­ing their hu­man rights abused or where the tourists are not steal­ing all the water or any­thing else from a des­ti­na­tion, then you’re prob­a­bly go­ing to get a bet­ter hol­i­day any­way,” says Wat­son.

As for LGBT peo­ple, it is im­por­tant to bear in mind your own, as well as lo­cal peo­ple’s, safety, how­ever, Wat­son adds that it is also worth con­sid­er­ing whether vis­it­ing can help change at­ti­tudes. “Even in coun­tries with poor hu­man rights records you find the peo­ple on the ground are of­ten de­cent, nice and car­ing... By trav­el­ling you’re break­ing down bar­ri­ers.”

So, go on hol­i­day and have a won­der­ful time, but do con­sider your car­bon foot­print and how you can make the most out of it. As Wat­son says: “If you can also help lo­cal peo­ple while you’re there then that surely has to be a pow­er­ful thing.”

5 DES­TI­NA­TIONS MAK­ING A DIF­FER­ENCE THREE SIS­TERS TREKKING, NEPAL

One of few women- owned trekking com­pa­nies in Nepal, Three Sis­ters also runs non­profit or­gan­i­sa­tion Em­pow­er­ing Women of Nepal, train­ing fe­male trekking guides in a coun­try where sport­ing women face so­cial stigma. As a guest at this so­lar and re­cy­cling­pow­ered en­ter­prise, you will be guided by one of the near 1,000 women from dis­ad­van­taged back­grounds who have been trained here. And the money you pay for a once-in-a-life­time ex­pe­ri­ence will help fund their em­ploy­ment, as well as lo­cal women’s and chil­dren’s projects. eth­i­cal.travel/list­ing/ three-sis­ters-trekking

SONEVA FUSHI, MAL­DIVES

Sit­u­ated in the trop­i­cal rain­for­est on the par­adise is­lands of the Mal­dives, the multi-award-win­ning lux­ury cast­away re­sort of Soneva Fushi has been car­bon neu­tral since 2014. They are 100% water self-suf­fi­cient, 73% of solid waste is re­cy­cled and they cre­ate their own re­search into reef con­ser­va­tion and bio­di­ver­sity. What’s more, they are work­ing to­wards be­com­ing the best em­ployer for women in the Mal­dives and the foun­da­tion co-runs a mo­bile dog clinic. soneva.com LJUBL­JANA ,SLOVE­NIA You read about the beauty of Slove­nia and their warm wel­come to the LGBT trav­eller on page 76, but did you know that Ljubl­jana was named the Euro­pean Green Cap­i­tal last year? With a largely car-free city cen­tre, a zero-waste pol­icy and 542 square me­tres of pub­lic green space per res­i­dent, it’s a must for any­one in­ter­ested in a green break – and you can get here by train (in­clude a nice overnight stop in Mu­nich, for ex­am­ple). greenljubl­jana.com

KAS­BAH DU TOUBKAL, MOROCCO

Sit­u­ated in the Toubkal Na­tional Park, in a dra­matic set­ting be­low Jbel Toubkal, the high­est moun­tain in North Africa, this award-win­ning ho­tel is the per­fect base for ex­cur­sions in the Moroc­can coun­try­side. The ho­tel has cre­ated much-needed lo­cal jobs and the tourism prof­its have been used in part to fund ed­u­ca­tion pro­grammes for women, a wel­comed ini­tia­tive for fam­i­lies who don’t want to send their girls to study in big­ger cities. eth­i­cal. travel/list­ing/kas­bah-du-toubkal

PACUARE LODGE, COSTA RICA

One of the Na­tional Ge­o­graphic’s top eco lodges and a gem in Costa Rica’s eco travel crown, the Pacuare Lodge of­fers a to­tally unique and sus­tain­able hol­i­day ex­pe­ri­ence. The re­sort, which was built us­ing lum­ber from a re­for­esta­tion project run by small farm­ers, is nestled deep within the jun­gle along­side the Pacuare river and it is ev­i­dent their re­spect for na­ture lies at the heart of their op­er­a­tion. Stay at this gor­geously ro­man­tic ho­tel and learn from the na­tive pop­u­la­tion who reg­u­larly col­lab­o­rate with the re­sort. pacuarelodge.com

Tourism Con­cern pro­duces an Eth­i­cal Travel Guide. You can read it at eth­i­cal.travel. Become a mem­ber to get more ad­vice and dis­counts, as well as to ac­cess their lat­est re­search.

WAN­DER­LUST CAN HAVE A NEG­A­TIVE EF­FECT ON THE EN­VI­RON­MENT AND PEO­PLE AROUND US. HERE’S HOW TO TURN YOUR TRIP INTO A POS­I­TIVE FOR THE PLANET, AND YOUR­SELF

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