It hasn’t been the easiest year for the travel industry, after the pandemic halted many overseas trips and holidays. Lonely Planet has used the period as a time for reflection on how to best encourage responsible travel, changing its annual Best in Travel list to highlight businesses and destinations that meaningfully promote sustainability, community and diversity.
We’ve rounded-up a curated version of the winners below, so you can start dreaming of your 2021 travels.
Best accommodation: Grootberg Lodge, Namibia
The sun-powered, entirely sustainable Grootberg Lodge sits on the beautiful Etendeka Plateau, which is famed for its commanding flat-topped mountains and desolate landscape. The accommodation, not only uses minimal energy and takes water conservation seriously, but also operates a targeted employment scheme, “creating jobs that specifically lessen the impact humans have on Namibian wildlife”.
2. Best revitalisation: Medellin, Colombia
Once dubbed the ‘most dangerous city on earth’, Medellin in Colombia has undergone a serious regeneration, thanks to community-driven revitalisation. Now famed for its creativity and public art, the City of Eternal Spring transformed itself, uniting previously disconnected neighbourhoods through elevated metros, cable cars, bridges and escalators, as well as investing in poor districts by building libraries, community buildings and cultural centres.
3. Emerging destination: Antigua & Barbuda
The beautiful beaches and warm waters surrounding the island of Antigua & Barbuda are enough of a pull for most tourists, but its fair shores are only the beginning. The country has shown true commitment to the environment and sustainability, from its ban of plastic bags and polystyrene products to its establishment of the “Green Corridor” – a collection of environmentally friendly hotels, resorts and businesses stretching along the southwest coast of Antigua to the village of John Hughes.
4. Wildlife programme: Rwanda
Rwanda has made a huge effort to save the critically endangered wild mountain gorilla, who faced extinction after decades of poaching and habitat loss. Their population is slowly on the rise as a result of Rwanda’s move to use sustainable tourism as a vehicle to implement long-term conservational change. Its not just the gorillas who have benefitted – now with poaching at all time low, lions and eastern black rhinos have been reintroduced to its safari land, turning the nation into a Big Five country once again.
5. Food destination: Greece
The Greeks have been inadvertently employing green measures for centuries, growing their own vegetables, making their own olive oil and maximising local ingredients. The country is also famed for its filoxenia, which translates as ‘friend to a stranger’, the basis for Greece’s legendary sense of hospitality.
6. Best walk: Le Vie di Dante, Italy
Few could contest the beauty of the Italian landscape, so Lonely Planet recommends its Le Vie di Dante – a walk that serves as an homage to the writer and poet Dante Alighieri, who did these trails 700 years ago. The epic 245-mile (395km), 20-stage trek (obviously you can partake in whichever parts of the route you want to) runs from Ravenna to Florence and back, with highlights including the pictured medieval village of Brisighella.
7. Best city: Gothenburg
Gothenburg’s sustainable credentials are peerless – not only has the Swedish city topped the Global Destination Sustainability Index with 95% of its hotels green certified, but 65% of its public transport runs on renewable energy. The coastal spot recently gifted itself a new public park, complete with floating pool, artificial beach, overwater sauna and an urban garden where the public can grow produce free of charge.
8. Best cultural diversity: San Diego
San Diego was praised for its diversity, its DNA having been shaped by indigenous, Spanish, Mexican and American communities. In fact, minority communities make up a total of 55 per cent of the population, a statistic that is backed up by its popular multicultural celebrations, from Pride to Chinese New Year, to its broad local culinary offering, spanning tacos to Ethiopian.
9. Best train journey: Rocky Mountaineer
Rocky Mountaineer offers mindbogglingly beautiful routes through the Pacific Northwest, with views of mountain ranges, waterfalls, and snow-capped glaciers. So as to protect the stunning scenery that it meanders through, the company has reduced its carbon emissions, increased on-board recycling and partnered with organisations to protect the local wildlife.
10. Most welcoming: Amman
Amman in Jordan has long attracted visitors because of its renowned hospitality. Rooted in Levantine and Bedouin traditions, geniality and generosity are integral to the Middle Eastern welcome, with the sharing of food and drink at its core. Amman offers plenty of opportunities for tourists to meaningfully interact with locals, be it the market stalls of Al Balad to the creative cafe communities in Weibdeh and Jabal Amman.
From Harper’s Bazaar UK