Sustainable destinations in Latin America are setting the benchmark for ecotourism as the trend develops globally.
The diverse biodiversity and natural wonders of Latin America offer a rich breadth of options for the eco-friendly traveller and here are the top hotspots selected by ITB Newsroom.
Brazil: Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro is setting the tone on how to tackle the challenges presented by mass tourism in a densely populated city.
The city has long established policies for renewable energy and the development of sustainable infrastructure.
Thanks to investment in hydropower and new parks and green spaces, CO2 emissions are quickly been reduced in the city.
Heavy investment is also being made in green construction throughout Rio putting it among the top sustainable destinations in Latin America.
Costa Rica: Monteverde Cloud Forest
Costa Rica is a world leader for ecotourism and conservation policies with some of the best land for agriculture, cattle and development.
The country has pioneered the development of payments for environmental services and established programmes to compensate landowners for reforestation.
Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve has played a crucial role in Costa Rica’s position as a sustainable destination.
Government measures protect the forest which now serves as an example of the nation’s environmental practices.
Examples include financial incentives for farmers to protect their land to prevent deforestation, grants for environmental services and
Ecuador: Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos Islands is one of the world’s most fragile ecosystems and its protection is paramount.
Large scale efforts are underway including strict regulations for cruise operators, a limit on visitor numbers on each island, and stringent policies on the conservation of water, energy and recyclable waste material.
Policies are also in place for the sourcing of local materials and the hiring of local employees with a fair wage.
Peru and Bolivia: Lake Titicaca
The preservation of Lake Titicaca is paramount for the natural environment and economy of Peru and Bolivia.
Communities depend on tourism for income but the area is also an essential water source for an estimated one million people.
Significant progress has been made in both countries in recent years with a focus on those in the tourism industry and education for local neighbourhoods.
Furthermore, strict rules are in place aimed to limit everyday pollutants that pour into the basin and to clean up the lake. The project will cost an estimated $500 million (€441.4m) and will be completed by 2025.
Peru: Sacred Valley
Significant efforts have been made to reduce the impact of tourism in Peru where rainforest makes up half of the landscape.
Special focus has been given to the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu region in particular, giving rise to Peru as one of the continent’s top sustainable destinations.
Its ecotourism is unparalleled when it comes to the valley, which is a vital agricultural hub for the country, and the ancient traditions of the Inca Empire.
The government has also made great strides towards preserving the culture of the region while maintaining tourism programmes which support local communities.