View all Blog

5 urban eco-tourism destinations, from Copenhagen to Singapore

boat on a lake amongst mountains
Pietro De Grandi/Unsplash
Apr 27, 2023 By WGSN Insider

Eco-travel is gaining traction as travellers consider their carbon footprint. With countries implementing sustainability plans, tourism is becoming less damaging to Earth.

The global eco-tourism market is expected to expand at a CAGR of 15.2% from 2022 to 2030, and was valued at $185.87bn in 2021. Eco-tourism is associated with rural destinations, but this is changing as cities around the world build infrastructures and environments.

“As the thirst for sustainable travel increases YoY in all regions, cities should double down on eco-green developments, sustainable transport and clean air targets in order to thrive as hubs for visitors and digital nomads alike.”
- Jo McGinn, Senior Strategist, City by City

WGSN travel graph
WGSN search index and Sustainable Travel Report 2022

Copenhagen leads the way

Copenhagen aims to be the world’s first carbon-neutral capital by 2025. It boasts lower-impact transport and energy, green spaces and renewable tourism via CopenHill, a ski slope on top of a waste-to-energy plant.

a cyclist in Copenhagen
Shvets Anna/Pexels

Transport and waste are the first step for New York

New York state includes Domino Park, a waterfront green zone built on a former industrial site and Governors Island with a Zero Waste Island Initiative that aims to ban cars and eliminate waste. It’s also home to urban farming lab GrowNYC and is a Billion Oyster Project site.

Yoav Aziz/Unsplash

Country-wide sustainability plans

Led by the Green Plan 2030, Singapore has a community-led S$50m SG Eco Fund. It’s phasing out conventional vehicles by 2040, introducing solar-powered, EV-ready towns and its Vertical Oceans proposes aqua farms that can make sustainable seafood. While Phuket’s Ratsada Green in the City initiative in Thailand includes a mangrove eco-tourism project, with trails around a protected nature reserve.

Palu Malerba/Pexels

Turning countries into conservations

San José is part of Costa Rica’s Strategic National Plan for a decentralised, decarbonised country by 2050, and its Urban Master Plan aligns to SDGs. In Costa Rica, 26% of land falls under protected conservation areas and 99.78% of the country's energy output in 2020 was from renewable sources.

Costa Rica
Luis Quintero

How you can action this

Tap into urban eco-tourism initiatives, which can transform cities into greener environs and encourage travellers to consider them eco-friendly destinations.

WGSN subscribers can read the full Sustainability Bulletin: April 2023 for a round-up of the key sustainability happenings this month.

Share article: