Lonely Planet Writer

The most sustainable holiday experiences for 2019

This week, the world’s most sustainable and progressive travel organisations were revealed by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), as they listed the finalists in the 2019 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards.

The travel industry is responding to the demand for sustainable experiences. Image by Getty

Sustainable travel has really hit its stride as a new generation of travellers push it into the mainstream. In recent years, travellers have been seeking sustainable experiences in their destination choices, from increasing cultural understanding to aiding in the conservation of wildlife and choosing accommodation with serious eco credentials. Travellers have never been more aware of their impact on the places they visit and the industry is responding.

Now in its 15th year, the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards recognises the organisations with a strong commitment to sustainability. This year’s finalists include The Brando in Tahiti, which has been nominated for the Climate Action Award as it gets closer to reaching its goal of being carbon neutral and self-sustainable. Shanga by Elewana Collection in Tanzania has been shortlisted for the Investing in People Award for hiring approximately 50-75% of its camp staff from the local community.

Intrepid Tours, who removed elephant rides from its tours, are nominated. Image by ©Gary Latham/Lonely Planet

Meanwhile, small-group tour company Intrepid Travel, known for its pioneering responsible tourism strategies (such as being the first major international travel company to remove elephant rides from its tours in 2014) are among the finalists in the Social Impact Award category. Organisations fighting the illegal wildlife trade through sustainable tourism have also been recognised, including SEE Turtles in the USA (who work to protect sea turtles through ecotourism) and The Cardamom Tented Camp (who operate a conservation-friendly adventure getaway in Cambodia).

Gloria Guevara, President and CEO of WTTC, said: “I am delighted that in this 15th anniversary year, we are particularly highlighting initiatives which are combatting the illegal wildlife trade, in line with the WTTC Buenos Aires Declaration which was launched in April 2018.”

The full lists of finalists are:

Climate Action Award

For organisations undertaking significant and measurable work to reduce the scale and impact of climate change:

– Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort, Aruba
– The Brando, Tetiaroa Private Island, Tahiti
– Tourism Holdings Limited, New Zealand

Destination Stewardship Award

St. Kitts Sustainable Destination Council is helping the Caribbean island thrive sustainably. Image by Getty

For organisations helping a place to thrive and bring forward its unique identity for the benefit of its residents and tourists:

– Grupo Rio da Prata, Brazil
– Masungi Georeserve, Philippines
– St. Kitts Sustainable Destination Council, St. Kitts and Nevis

Investing in People Award

For organisations demonstrating leadership in becoming an exciting, attractive, and equitable employer in the sector:

– Lemon Tree Hotels Limited, India
– Reserva do Ibitipoca, Brazil
– Shanga by Elewana Collection, Tanzania

Social Impact Award

For organisations working to improve the people and places where they operate:

– Awamaki, Peru
– Intrepid Group, Australia
– Nikoi Island, Indonesia

Changemakers Award

Focused on organisations fighting the illegal wildlife trade through sustainable tourism:

– Kelompok Peduli Lingkungan Belitung (KPLB), Indonesia
– SEE Turtles, USA
– The Cardamom Tented Camp, Cambodia

Winners will be announced at the 19th WTTC Global Summit in Seville, Spain from 2–4 April 2019.