Earth Day: Photos of Six Green Places We Like

Elephants - Sri LankaSri Lanka – Photo: Russ Johnson

What is green tourism?

It is not all about recycling and saving energy, it is about how tourism fits with a local community, its environment and its people. Green, or Good Tourism, as I like to call it, contributes. Bad tourism – tourism that overwhelms – destroys.

I have seen many travel destinations and experiences deteriorate over the years. I still enjoy small cruise ships and river boats. This new generation of floating cities, which carry four thousand or more passengers, have been likened to floating strip mines due to their effect on small ports they visit, changing once-pristine places to crowded, greedy carnivals. Places like Cambodia’s Angkor which I, almost shamefully, helped introduce to the world of tourism, are jammed with hotels, tourists and the destructive culture that comes with them. But wait, there is hope. There are many places in the world where Good Tourism still has the upper hand. Here are six.

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Sri Lanka: As Green as it Gets

The video takes you from the sea at Negombo to Vil Ulyana , a stunning eco-friendly resort on the plain near the rock fortress Sigiria, with its lusty lady cave paintings, the ruins of the ancient kingdom of Polonnaruwa, the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage, the Temple of the Tooth at Kandy, a look at ficus the size of a house, then up into the mountains at Hunas Falls and the tea plantatons of Nuwara Eliya. 

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Lost in Tschotskiland: An Essay on Souvenirs and Crafts: Audio


Sedona, Arizona – Batik Paints, Bali

I am at the dump with a truckload of…STUFF: a rusty old Weber barbecue with a missing wheel, two CD players that cost more to fix than replace, a typewriter table (remember those?), old tax receipts, and souvenirs, boxes of worthless STUFF that is given or sent to me because I am a travel writer and therefore deemed an easy mark for bribery.

AUDIO STORY: Lost in Tschotskiland
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The Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica – Video

I took a hike through Costa Rica’s Monteverde Cloud forest with Danilo Wallace, a park ranger born and raised in what is now one of the world’s foremost rainforest preserves. He said that when he was a child he shot Toucans with a slingshot, cut off their bills and made necklaces. For his parents, the forest was a servant, from which they extracted building materials and food. That has changed.

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