Earth Day is a good time to virtually explore destinations investing in the environment

While COVID-19 might have us locked down at home, these virtual tours can help us plan for future travel with sustainability in mind

Sandra Thomas Travel

The fact that very few people are travelling this Earth Day due to COVID-19 means that some destinations investing in environmental initiatives are getting an extra boost as Mother Nature gets a bit of a breather.

Due to the fact we’ve all been asked to stay put, virtual tours have become a great way to see the world and maybe inspire us to start planning for future travel, though how that’s going to look exactly is anyone’s guess.

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These armchair tours mean Canadian traveller can not only experience some of the most unforgettable adventures and retreats virtually, but also be inspired by the fact these destinations have helped reduce our carbon footprint.

To find out just what some of those initiatives are, I turned to the travel experts at the Toronto office of Development Counsellors International.

Here are just a few examples of destinations making the effort to further sustainability initiatives and inspire future travel that you can feel good about:

Barbados: Not only do the white sand beaches and warm temperatures tempt visitors, but the wildlife refuge and sanctuaries offer a unique experience in this paradisiacal destination.

The Caribbean Sea’s Carlisle Bay and Folkestone Marine Park are two of Barbados’ marine sanctuaries that strive to preserve the island’s ocean life and natural beauty.

On land, the Barbados Wildlife Reserve is where animals are protected and free to roam within their preserved natural habitats. Check out this link for a virtual tour of the reserve.

Belize: This country proudly strives to protect and preserve its vast biodiversity and distinctive ecosystems. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Belize Barrier Reef is one great example of this sustainability effort, with 500-plus species of fish and nearly 300 kilometres of coral reef.

Belize encourages responsible travel by asking visitors to explore all that the reef has to offer with respect — choosing reef-safe sunscreen, avoiding contact with the reef, etc.

The destination strives to protect and sustain its biodiversity through natural reserves, such as Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve, which is comprised of 300,000 acres of protected pine forest and home to the sublime Big Rock Falls.

Miami, FL: From green building codes to sustainable restaurants, Miami is a city with sustainability at heart. This year, the destination launched a state-of-the-art theme park experience called MIAMILAND that highlights Miami as a top eco-destination.

Visitors now have more access to enjoy Miami’s outdoors beyond the outdoor bars. For example, the Everglades is a unique ecosystem spread across 1.5 million acres, and is the only place in the world where alligators and crocodiles live together.

Miami’s goal to reduce car fuel emissions has paved the way for increased cycling within the city. Visitors and locals are encouraged to explore with public bikes with the recent major expansion of cycling trails throughout the destination. For travel inspiration, visit Miami’s earthy nature virtually here.

Newport Beach, CA: In addition to the laid-back luxury of Newport Beach, this Orange County city is rich in ecological reserves. The Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve and Ecological Preserve, for example, spans 1,000 acres and protects six endangered and rare species. The preserve encourages visitors to join in on the sustainability fun by planting and restoring native plant life on monthly restoration days.

Crystal Cove State Park is another example of how Newport Beach works to preserve several kilometres of Southern California coastline. Celebrate Earth Day by taking a sunny virtual tour of the SoCal town.

Tahiti: Visiting the Islands of Tahiti offers a plethora of ways to engage in eco-tourism and sustainability initiatives. Visitors with a mind for purposefulness and luxury can revel at Le Meridien Bora Bora, where the Ecological Center project strives to restore coral reef while the Turtle Center project rehabilitates sea turtles with intent to return to the wild.

Take in the beauty of this iconic Tahitian experience through the resort’s 360-degree virtual tour. Visitors can take part in more sea turtle preservation on the captivating island of Moorea at the Sea Turtle Care Center InterContinental Moorea Resort & Spa, where 400 sea turtles have been sheltered and 190 have been successfully released to back into the wild. The Islands of Tahiti is also home to the largest shark sanctuary in the world.

Toulumne County, CA: With Yosemite National Park, amongst other natural marvels, in Tuolumne County’s backyard, it’s no wonder that they’re making major strides in sustainable tourism practices. In the Yosemite area, tours booked with Echo Adventure Cooperative are 99.8 per cent free of single-use plastics and tour guides proudly educate visitors on Leave No Trace principles.

Straddling three distinct regions — Gold Country, Yosemite and High Sierra — Tuolumne County is an outdoor haven with much to explored, from mountain ranges to gold rush rivers.

Take a virtual adventure this Earth Day and explore the natural bounty of Tuolumne County.




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