The desire to travel more responsibly and minimise our environmental impact as well as give back to local communities has been gradually gathering pace for years. Responsible tourism allows travellers to immerse in the destination whilst uncovering local experiences with a justification of the airmiles taken to get there. Here we showcase the top ways to travel responsibly, see how and where travellers can go and explore from guesthouse stays in The Islands of Tahiti offering truly authentic experiences to rewilding the countryside in Glamorgan, Wales.
Michinoku Coastal Trail
Running along the coast of the Tohoku region is the Michinoku Coastal Trail, this trail offers a rocky shoreline, numerous bays, cliffs and coves stretching over 1,000 kilometres. As a result of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster tourism has been and still is vital to the recovery of the area. The region was devastated by the impact and after effect of the tsunami and currently only gets visits from 2-3% of Japan’s international travellers despite it being one of the biggest areas in Japan. The local community has worked hard to rebuild the area using tourism to help generate the local economy. Visitors can hike the Michinoku Trail and stay in guesthouses along the way, this allows for visitors to experience local life for themselves, and see what’s so special about the Tohoku region. Visitors can walk the length of or part of the Michinoku Coastal Trail with Walk Japan, Walk Japan is a company that prides itself on its efforts to incorporate local communities into its walking tours. It is committed to employing local staff, they use local family-run accommodations, local taxi and bus firms, restaurants and more.
Hoshinoya Karuizawa – Nagano, Japan
Located in the Nagano prefecture, along the Three-Star Road in the Japan Alps, stands the serene eco-friendly mountainside Hoshinoya Karuizawa resort. This gorgeous resort is just a short drive from Tokyo blending into rural surrounding landscapes. The resort gets its name from the use of hydroelectric systems created from waters that trickle-down Mount Asama to the Yukawa River. In line with using natural waters for power the resort is home to natural hot springs that are powered by geothermal energy from Mount Asama. The system in place is called ‘Energy In My Yard’ providing 70% of the resort’s energies including the added luxury of under floor heating. Enjoy the surrounding wonders of this resort guilt free and view the Shiraito Falls, Karuizawa Wild Bird Sanctuary and Tombo-no-yu baths. Stroll around the resort’s private idyllic gardens taking in the peaceful and spiritual atmosphere.
Kamikatsu zero-waste village, shikoku
Japanese town Kamikatsu is located in Tokushima prefecture in the Setouchi Region. In 2003 the town took to a Zero Waste Policy, the first in Japan to do so, and aimed to eliminate the use of incinerators or landfills. Residents of this town have spent over two decades reusing, recycling and reducing. The town has no trash collection system so residents transport the household waste themselves to a local facility, where there are over 45 separate categories for their waste segregation. Back in 2016 the town managed to recycle 81% of all their refuse and with their sights set on 100% ‘Zero Waste’ by the end of 2020. In 2020, the town opened the ‘Why?’ facility to encourage people to visit and learn about the town’s ground-breaking sustainability initiative. The new facility includes hotel rooms for overnight guests, and is in the shape of a question mark. The town also boasts a designer bar made entirely from recycled refuse.
Travelling by train around Japan
Japan is renowned for its excellent train transportation being exceptionally clean, quick and easy to use. Cut down on carbon footprint and take an unforgettable trip around Japan. Trains stop at both major cities’ and smaller villages allowing for visitors to get off-the-beaten-track and to discover many of the hidden gems that the country has to offer.
Many areas in Japan have their own special, scenic railways on which visitors can take in the natural beauty and essence of the region. Travel to the lesser-known areas of the Tohoku region via the Gono Line and stop off in Hachinohe City where the Kabushima Shrine stands. From here visitors can get the train down to Tokyo and explore the capital before venturing from Shibuya to the Chubu region where visitors can explore the Three-Star Road area. From Shibuya the Three-star route will travel to Matsumoto, Takayama in Gifu Prefecture, Shirakawa-go, Gokayama and end up in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture. This is an unforgettable area to explore, offering plenty of charming places that showcase a real Japan along with World Heritage sites and National Treasures such as the Kenrokuen Garden, Ishikawa. From here visitors can continue all the way down to west Japan to Kyushu travelling from Kanazawa to Fukuoka. Here, visitors can purchase JR Kyushu rail pass, this area pass covers travel on the Kyushu shinkansen between Hakata, in Fukuoka, and Kagoshima, via Kumamoto, as well as limited express trains around the island, including routes to Nagasaki and the onsen towns of Beppu, Yufuin and Ibusuki.
THE ISLANDS OF TAHITI
Stay with locals – The Islands of Tahiti
Tahitian guesthouses, also referred to locally as pensions (pronounced pone-see-owns), are typically family-operated lodgings. These hidden gems provide a unique opportunity for visitors to immerse themselves in local cultures, and some owners sit down to meals or even escort guests on excursions. Not only will you get an authentic experience, but you’ll also be leaving a smaller carbon footprint than some large-scale resorts. Situated on the beach, Les Relais de Josephine is the perfect guesthouse for spotting dolphins and other marine wildlife. Visitors can enjoy their own private garden brimming with tropical flora and home cooked meals on the beach. Prices from £151 p/n for a one-person bungalow.
Giant Sequoia Saplings – Yosemite Tuolumne County, California
Visit Tuolumne County partnered with Pinecrest Expedition Academy, whose students planted a new grove of Giant Sequoias at the iconic Kennedy Meadows Resort & Packstation nestled in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. As part of the programme, Visit Tuolumne County gifted three baby sequoia trees to signify the region’s commitment to sustainability and destination stewardship. Pinecrest Expedition Academy also developed a curriculum for students to learn about the sequoias, how to test pH levels of soil and plant a new grove. The students will continue to monitor and support the trees, tracking growth and maintaining an online chart on the school’s website, which will be publicly available to view.
Alterra Mountain Company creates the Climate Collaborative Charter in collaboration with the four largest ski industry leaders
The Climate Collaborative Charter, launched in June, is the ski industry’s first unified effort to combat climate change with shared commitments around sustainability and advocacy. It is a joint effort between Alterra Mountain Company, Boyne Resorts, POWDR and Vail Resorts and has been two years in the making. All four ski industry leaders have agreed to operate their respective resorts with sustainability at the forefront and use their collective voice to advocate for effective public policy on climate action in order to leave a positive legacy for future generations of skiers, snowboarders and outdoor enthusiasts. This will translate to further implementation of sustainable practices, including elements from NSAA’s Sustainable Slopes (US National Ski Areas Association) platform, across the combined 71 North American resorts, including marquee destinations such as Steamboat, Mammoth Mountain, Deer Valley Resort and Aspen Snowmass.
The Mammoth Lakes Promise
The epic mountain town of Mammoth Lakes, and the surrounding Eastern Sierra, is an otherworldly adventureland worth protecting for future generations to experience. Visit Mammoth has resources to help visitors to this special part of California become a better steward to the mountains and lakes, and even help them learn about proper recreation practices while at camp or in town. The first step towards more responsible recreation can be as simple as reading and signing the Mammoth Lakes Promise to ensure that everyone can experience the infinite moments of wonder for years to come.
Aspen Snowmass one of the world’s leading sustainable travel companies
Not only is Aspen Snowmass one of the world’s best ski resorts, but it’s also one of the world’s leading sustainable travel companies and is continually striving to offset its carbon footprint and make a true difference. Visitors can rest assured that a holiday to the mountains also gives back to the environment and local community through actions like Protect Our Winters and Aspen Center for Environmental Studies. Aspen Skiing Company has also helped turn a mine in Colorado into a clean-energy production facility and in the process has prevented the emission of 250 billion cubic feet of methane annually into the atmosphere, which is the equivalent to removing 517,000 passenger vehicles from the road for a year.
UK & EUROPE
Rewilding in Porthkerry Country Park – Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales
Rewilding of Old Golf Course – a new project to rewild the old golf course has recently been undertaken at Porthkerry Country Park in Barry. This project will create a mosaic of habitats, including hedgerows, ponds, wildflower meadows and salt marsh for the benefit of wildlife, alongside improved access and picnic facilities for visitors. The park sits in 220 acres of woods and meadowland in a sheltered valley leading to a pebble beach and spectacular cliffs. A number of nature trails, picnic sites, café, adventure play area, barbecue areas and mini golf course ready for summer visitors.
Michelin Sustainability Awards – Slovenia
Slovenia is one of the cleanest and most environment-friendly countries, both in Europe and globally. Today, it is the only European country with a zero waste capital. Slovenia is the proud holder of the title of the European Region of Gastronomy 2021. Among its other qualities, it convinced the expert panel with its short supply chains, high quality of locally produced food and wine and a comprehensive organic approach. As many as six Slovenian culinary providers were awarded the new Michelin sustainability award, and many providers received the Green Key eco-label.