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When we travel we use natural resources, increase pollution and produce waste. It is forecasted that by 2030 the tourism industry will produce 25% percent more CO2 emissions than it did by 2016, according to the World Tourism Organization. That will represent around 5.2% of all man-made emissions. As a response to the negative impact of tourism there has been a surge of measures from the industry, to try and move towards sustainability. As tourists have become more aware of the impacts of their journeys, the industry has responded by implementing new sustainable measures.
According to a recent study made by the energy department of USwitch, Disney World gets the first tier as the most sustainable tourist attraction. Uswitch is an online and telephone platform that helps clients compare and switch services and products; from energy providers, gas, heating, etc. The platform also provides a variety of rankings. The study analyzed the sustainability credentials of 27 of the most visited attractions worldwide, using six categories: Water Reduction, Low Emissions, Recycling Schemes, Re-wilding Efforts and Sustainable Transportation. For each category, every attraction had a score out of 10, with a total score being 60. Below, we present you The Top Ten Most Sustainable Tourist Attractions.
Astonishingly, the most magical place on earth is also the most sustainable place on earth. Disney World Magic Kingdom in Florida has around 17.5 million visitors per year. Despite containing many rides and amusements, the park has made the biggest conscious effort to decrease the impact it has on the environment. The iconic Cinderella Castle is lit by 170.00 LED lights at a cost of energy required for 4 coffee pots. Moreover, almost a third of the park is dedicated to wildlife and conservation; and has a solar plant within the premises.
The Sydney Opera House has been awarded 5 star by the The Green Building Council of Australia, being one of the first Heritage-listed Buildings to achieve that certification globally. Their reduction of around 75% power usage through energy saving and seawater cooling systems have awarded that certification.
The Electric ferry rides and their waste management initiatives make the Niagara Falls in New York one of the best locations for eco-tourism. While listed third in the general count, the Niagara Falls were the most eco-friendly touristic landmark worldwide, with a total of 46 out of 60.
The Disneyland Resort in Hong Kong has 4,500 rooftop installed solar panels, making it the largest solar panel site in Hong Kong. It has also a centralized water cooler air conditioning system, that recycles water waste from toilet flushing and bathrooms.
With a total of 5 million visitors per year the National History Museum in London was rated in the top of the list of sustainable museums worldwide, scoring 44 points out of 60. In 2019, the museum announced that it had successfully reduced its total greenhouse gas emissions by 5%. Most of the energy used in the Museum is generated with a trigeneration energy centre, which has saved more than 15,000 tones of carbon dioxide since its installation.
The Eiffel Tower is equipped with solar-thermal panels, LED lights and wind turbines. After years of development, the authorities have made the Paris Landmark, a world class example for sustainability. Making it the third Disney entry on the list, the Disneyland Paris is characterized by the ban of single use plastic. Moreover, it has claimed to have reduced its carbon footprint by 13-14%.
There are more than 2,300 recycling bins all across the Universal Parks. In 2007, Universal Studios launched the Green is Universal initative to focus on various sustainability goals. It has adopted renewable energy sources, recycling measures and waste management strategies to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
The Efteling Theme Park, located in the Netherlands, purchases household water waste and then reuse it after purifying it, among many other sustainable measures. The ecosystem within the park is enriched with different species of plant, birds and animals.
Every space and tourist attraction has its impact on the planet, even more so the places like these on the list that are visited by millions of people everyday. Besides doing your homework as a tourist by resetting your carbon footprint, and choosing to travel by more sustainable means; you can check if your next tourist landmark is on the list, and what their sustainable initiatives are.
+ Words: Leila Salinas, Luxiders Magazine
Journalist | Berlin-based
Connect with her on LinkedIn or Instagram (@leisalinas)