The world’s top ten sustainable destinations received their awards at ITB Berlin. Portugal received two awards, while Bhutan, Botswana, Malta, the Netherlands, Rwanda, Slovenia, Tajikistan, and the USA each received one.
The high-class competition is contested over a period of one year. To begin with, 100 sustainable destinations, qualify for the first round, after which the finalists are selected who present themselves in front of a large audience at the Palais am Funkturm. The panel includes members of 12 leading international organizations.
The winners, as published by Green Destinations, were as follows:
1.Best in Cities, Communities & Culture: Quality-Coast, Western Portugal
2.Best in the Atlantic: the Azores, Portugal
3.Best in Nature: Chobe Makgadikgadi Okavango and Selinda, Botswana
4.Best in Seasides: Dutch Quality-Coast Delta, Netherlands
5.The Earth Award: Kingdom of Bhutan
6.Best in Europe: Green Destinations of Slovenia
7.Best in Africa: Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
8.Best in the Asian-Pacific region: High Pamirs Mountain Region, Tajikistan
9.Best in the Americas: Vail in Colorado, USA
10.Best in the Mediterranean: Gozo, Malta
The theme of this year’s competition was ’Tourism benefiting local communities’. For the organizers, it is important that destinations learn to involve local municipalities and residents in shaping sustainable tourism. It is in the interests of every tourism destination to avoid mass tourism with its negative impact and resistance within the local community. Overtourism is a term dominating many of the discussions at this year’s ITB Berlin.
This was the first time the awards ceremony took place at ITB Berlin. According to Albert Salman, director of Green Destinations, it had become clear that the award-winning top ten destinations were the best of the best in terms of quality, attractiveness and sustainable tourism. Other destinations could benefit as well, as could destination managers, he added. Rika Jean-Francois, CSR officer at ITB Berlin, noted that these destinations, whose sustainability credentials were exemplary, would also benefit from the international recognition that the awards afforded them.
The awards presentation was organized by ITB Berlin, Green Destinations and TravelMole’s Vision on Sustainable Tourism, and was also supported by BookDifferent.com and others among the top 100 partners of the organization.