There is a lot of talk of the new normal in travel. How we are all going to be sustainable, savvy and sensitive when we are allowed out of our cages again. I have always believed that sustainability is normal in tourism, and so this isn’t new for me. It isn’t new for the following sustainable tourism companies either, who have been flying the fantastic flag of fair and fun tourism for many years.
So, if you are revving up to travel again but want to not only keep things responsible but also remote, here are some beauties in my book. These ten sustainable tourism companies are led by pioneering people who will look after you, your loved ones, their own communities and environments. I don’t like top ten type round ups, because ranking leaders like this is just nonsense, so they’re in alphabetical order.
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Friluftsliv and Free Air Living on wilderness holidays in Scandinavia
I like companies that are based on a sound philosophy, and Magnetic North Travel was set up by Laura Greenman, a green travel writer and eco entrepreneur, after she travelled extensively in Scandinavia, and discovered the Norwegian philosophy of Friluftsliv. Although this sounds more like something you might buy in Ikea, it actually translates as Free Air Living. And, unlike the Swedish indoor retail therapy, this philosophy is based on the idea that spending time outdoors, in nature, can really help us recuperate as individuals.
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It’s not every day you get to swim in a bog pool in real wilderness. But this adventure holiday in Estonia, takes you to Soomaa National Park, just two hours drive from the stag-filled bars of its capital. Soomaa translates as ‘Land of Bogs’ where you can meander through meadows and mires by canoe, hike across squelchy sphagnum moss with the aid of ingenious bogshoes, and cool off in the most divine natural pools you will ever come across.
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I am often asked, which are the best bits of Ireland to visit? Which are the greenest? The most ‘Irish’? This is all very subjective, of course, but what most people don’t know is that the European Union has come up with a pretty efficient way of mapping some of the most sustainable regions of Europe. It has chosen Eden areas all over Europe, and Ireland boasts five of them. Because EDEN is an acronym meaning EU Destinations of Excellence, and are actually awards given to specific regions (often tiny enough to fall off the usual tourist maps) for their exemplary contributions to sustainable tourism. And I have the task of going in search of all of Ireland’s EDEN’s to see if they are as fruitful as they claim to be. My first one is Loop Head on the Wild Atlantic Way.
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