Surveys have hailed 2019 as the year of sustainable travel with a growing number of destinations, tour operators and resorts responding to the demands of the environmentally conscious consumer.

“Travellers are very aware of the need to urgently and drastically reduce plastic usage, and are actively seeking out countries, resorts and operators that are making changes. For many working in tourism in 2019, sustainability will be the key to success.”



Time to live consciously

If there was ever a year for radical change in the way travel businesses do business, surely 2019 is it. Among many recent surveys highlighting a similar shift,’s Travel Predictions for 2019 puts sustainable tourism – including the reduction of single-use plastics – centre stage, with 86% of travellers questioned saying they would be willing to spend some time on activities that offset the environmental impact of their stay.

Just as Iceland has raised the eco-bar for supermarkets, pledging to eliminate plastic packaging from its own-brand products by 2023, Portuguese airline, Hi Fly, is the surprise leader in the aviation industry’s sluggish race to ditch single-use plastics. The airline’s first single-use-plastic-free flight took off in December 2018, with Hi Fly’s President, Paulo Mirpuri, vowing to eliminate all plastic waste by the end of 2019.

Over 30 countries have already banned plastic bags (half of them in Africa), with others pledging to drastically reduce single-use plastics. Costa Rica will completely eradicate them by 2021, the first country in the world to do so, while Thomas Cook will remove 70 million single-use plastics from its resorts over the coming year.

What's new

Hotels: Grenada’s first ‘climate smart’ hotel rooms have opened at True Blue Bay Boutique Resort. The 22 self-sustaining Cocoa Pods use collected rainwater and solar energy.

The 50-room Akyra TAS Sukhumvit Bangkok opened in 2018 as Asia’s first single-use plastic free hotel. Guests receive refillable water bottles and non-plastic shopping bags on arrival, while toiletries are presented in pottery containers.

The ‘leave no trace’ Nyamatusi Camp in Zimbabwe opens with six luxury tents this April, powered by solar panels and Tesla batteries.

Joali Maldives opened with 73 beach and water villas in December 2018 on Muravandhoo Island. The resort has an organic vegetable garden and all food and plastic waste is recycled.

The recently opened Gennadi Grand Resort on the Greek island of Rhodes operates innovative energy management technology, water conservation and recycling practices.

The Pavilions Himalayas Lake View, the first tented luxury eco resort in Nepal, opened March 1 2019 with eight villas.

The recently renovated Datai Langkawi in Malaysia boasts a new Nature Centre, while recycling plants will ensure that no waste will leave the resort by 2020.

Cruising: Intrepid Travel has added a range of small-ship adventure cruises in Asia for 2019. All cruises are low impact, carbon offset, operate a no single-use plastics rule and support local restaurants.

Great Rail Journeys is launching a five-star exclusive river cruise charter programme in April 2019, offering guests the opportunity to offset their C02 consumption.

Polar specialists, Chimu Adventures, entered an agreement in December 2018 with Hurtigruten to offer low carbon footprint trips to the polar regions.

Celebrity Cruises launches the new, 100-guest Celebrity Flora in May 2019. Designed specifically for the Galapagos Islands, the energy-efficient ship uses anchorless technology to protect the sea floor.

Polar voyaging experts, Aurora Expeditions, are launching new ship, Greg Mortimer, in Antarctica in October 2019, with Ulstein X-Bow technology which reduces fuel consumption.

Top experiences

Protect the ocean: Conservation-led luxury travel company, &Beyond, has launched their Oceans Without Borders Journey: a six-day experience offering insight into marine con-servation and community development. Staying at the Vamizi Lodge in Mozambique, guests will be guided by marine biologist, Dr Tessa Hempson. From £8,385pp including flights and $1,500 (£1,167) conservation donation.

Plant sacred trees: Helping to reduce C02 and combat deforestation, the Latin America Travel Company will plant one tree per person per day in Cusco’s Sacred Valley for the duration of their 11-day Inca Trail itinerary. From £2,719 per person, including flights.

Be a plastic warrior: Steppes Travel is offering a 10-day voyage of the Galapagos, with the opportunity to explore the islands on foot and by dinghy with marine conservationist and producer of documentary, A Plastic Ocean, Jo Ruxton. From £6,695 per person, 20th October 2019 departure.

Clean up a beach: MedSailors, which offers skippered adventure sailing holidays for 20 to 35-year-olds, have launched beach clean-ups and a floatie recycling programme, helping to tackle plastic pollution in the Mediterranean. Their seven-day itineraries start from £505 per person.

What the experts say

“When choosing a sustainable holiday, the cheapest option may not always be best for customers in the long-term – they need to be looking at value.”


“New cruise ships (launched in the last three years) generally have significantly improved engine, waste management and onboard systems technology, and thus much lower car-bon emissions.”




Where to book it

The Antarctic Odyssey is a 21-day expedition cruise visiting the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, the South Orkney Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula, travelling on Ponant’s en-vironmentally friendly ship, Le Lyrial, with scientific experts on board. From £11,657 per person, 19th November 2019 departure.

Stay at the Sanctuary Stanley’s Camp (with its own solar farm) for three nights and Sanctuary Chobe Chilwero for two nights from £3,620 per person including flights, transfers and a donation to the Living With Elephants Foundation, which protects rescued orphaned ele-phants in Botswana’s Okavango Delta.