The New Era of Travel: Sustainable Alternatives for Popular Destinations

After years of restricted travel, 2023 marked a significant resurgence in holidaymaking, and the trend is set to continue in 2024, with international travel expected to reach or exceed pre-pandemic levels, according to the UK travel agents’ association, Abta. While this resurgence is welcomed by many destinations, it has also reignited concerns about the negative impacts of mass tourism, leading to a renewed focus on sustainable travel options.

The Return of Overtourism

The term “overtourism,” which dominated discussions in 2018, has once again become a pressing issue for many tourist destinations. Places like Barcelona and Venice are struggling to cope with the influx of visitors, leading to measures aimed at curbing tourism, such as limiting cruise ship arrivals and implementing tourist taxes. As a result, travelers are encouraged to consider alternatives to alleviate the pressure on overcrowded destinations.

Embracing Undersubscribed Gems

One strategy to travel more sustainably is to explore lesser-known destinations that offer similar experiences to popular hotspots. By venturing off the beaten path, travelers can enjoy unique attractions without contributing to overtourism.

Exploring Sustainable Alternatives

Here are some sustainable alternatives to popular tourist destinations:

Swap Amsterdam for Utrecht: Instead of overcrowded Amsterdam, travelers can visit Utrecht, a picturesque city just a short train ride away. With its charming canals, historic architecture, and vibrant cultural scene, Utrecht offers a more tranquil alternative to its bustling neighbor.

Swap Venice for Genoa: While Venice grapples with overtourism, travelers can discover the beauty of Genoa, a port city renowned for its rich history and culinary delights. With its Renaissance palaces, narrow alleyways, and bustling markets, Genoa provides an authentic Italian experience away from the crowds.

Swap Machu Picchu for Choquequirao: Rather than joining the throngs of tourists at Machu Picchu, travelers can explore Choquequirao, a lesser-known Incan site in southern Peru. Accessible only by foot or mule, Choquequirao offers a similar architectural marvel surrounded by pristine wilderness.

Swap Barcelona for Valencia: Instead of overcrowded Barcelona, travelers can visit Valencia, a vibrant coastal city known for its stunning architecture, delicious cuisine, and laid-back atmosphere. With its beautiful beaches, historic landmarks, and cultural attractions, Valencia offers a relaxing alternative to its bustling counterpart.

Swap Dubrovnik for Zadar: Rather than adding to the crowds in Dubrovnik, travelers can explore Zadar, a charming city on Croatia’s Dalmatian coast. With its ancient ruins, picturesque marina, and nearby national parks, Zadar provides a quieter escape without sacrificing beauty or culture.

Swap Angkor Wat for Beng Mealea: Instead of jostling for space at Angkor Wat, travelers can visit Beng Mealea, a hidden gem located east of the main temple complex. With its intricate carvings and tranquil atmosphere, Beng Mealea offers a peaceful alternative to Cambodia’s bustling tourist sites.

Swap Santorini for Syros: Rather than competing for space on crowded Santorini, travelers can explore Syros, a picturesque island in Greece’s Cyclades archipelago. With its charming port town, neoclassical architecture, and serene beaches, Syros offers a quieter alternative for those seeking a Greek island getaway.

As travelers rediscover the joys of exploration, it’s essential to consider the impact of tourism on popular destinations and seek out sustainable alternatives. By choosing undersubscribed gems and embracing off-the-beaten-path experiences, travelers can enjoy fulfilling adventures while minimizing their environmental footprint.


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