The results are in, and the first ever ‘Global Sustainable Destinations Top 100’ study has revealed that the undiscovered archipelago of the Azores was the world’s most sustainable tourism destination in 2014.
The breath-taking volcanic archipelago situated in the heart of the Atlantic achieved a Global Sustainable Tourism Review (GSTR) score of 8.9 out of 10, the highest of any destination in the study and the highest combined score for measures of green tourism policy, nature, environment, society, culture and green economy.
The CEO of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, Dr Randy Durband, was Special Advisor to the Global Sustainable Destinations Top 100, a joint initiative by four leading organisations in the sustainable travel arena (Vision on Sustainable Tourism, Totem Tourism, Green Destinations and Travel Mole).
The Azores makes effective use of renewable geothermal energy, and its main industries include agriculture, dairy farming, livestock ranching, fishing, and tourism. Only around 5% of the Azores’ ground is ‘built-up’ urbanized area, and the number of regulations and protected areas (which include UNESCO Biosphere Reserves and UNESCO European Geoparks) is continually rising, thanks in no small part to the importance placed on the environment in schools.
Quality Coast, the largest international certification programme for sustainable tourism destinations also named the Azores the top sustainable tourism destination of 2014, beating more than 1,000 other island and coastal destinations to the top spot and making the islands the first and only destination to achieve the ‘Quality Coast Platinum Award’ to date.
Environmentally-conscious travellers will find an abundance of sustainable outdoor and wildlife activities in the islands in 2015. Wildlife options including whale and dolphin watching, swimming with wild dolphins and blue sharks, scuba diving for pelagic fish and marine turtles, bird watching, big game fishing and horse riding. Outdoor activities include hiking and cycling on well-regulated volcanic trails, canyoning, kayaking, rock climbing, paragliding, surfing, golf and sailing.
Responsible Travel, the largest online tour operator promoting responsible and eco travel globally has also launched a two-minute guide on the Azores for travellers looking to holiday in the archipelago in 2015, which can be downloaded at www.responsibletravel.com/holidays/azores/travel-guide
To find out more about the ‘Global Sustainable Destinations Top 100’, visit www.greendestinations.info/top100/
To find out more about the Quality Coast Award programme, visit www.qualitycoast.info/?page_id=583
To find out more about the Azores, visit www.VisitAzores.com
5 January 2015
The nine islands of the Azores are in the middle of the North Atlantic and belong to Portugal. They can be reached by direct flight with SATA International (Sata.pt) from the UK in less than four hours from April – October, or via Lisbon year round. These volcanic islands are renowned for their craters, beautiful lakes, stunning sea, thermal pools and mountain vistas, their impressive flora and fauna and marine life. The islands have played a hugely important part in European maritime history, due to their strategically significant position as the westernmost point of Europe.
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