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From smooth pebbled beaches in Croatia to delightful delicacies in Japan, there’s many ways travelers can make a difference while carving out new experiences on vacation

As many travelers look to embark on their next adventure in the coming months, more and more are wanting authentic, wholesome experiences that make a positive impact on the local communities of their chosen destinations. With nearly half (46%) of global travelers considering purchasing local produce and supporting local businesses as a way to ensure they are traveling more sustainably, increasingly travelers are actively sidestepping popular tourist destinations and attractions, with 64% keen to avoid them to ensure a more even dispersal of the impact and benefits of their visit*

With sustainable travel meaning far more than recycling to people today, we have compiled five tips to showcase activities that can bolster and add value back into local communities, while giving travelers more authentic cultural experiences – and all come highly recommended by our travelers.** From smooth pebbled beaches in Croatia to delightful delicacies in Japan, there’s many ways travelers can make a difference while carving out new experiences on vacation. 

 

Support local culture 

With almost two thirds (63%) of global travelers reporting that they want the money they spend on vacation to benefit the local community,* travelers can immerse themselves in local culture and support their chosen destination in a variety of ways. Dine at family-run restaurants, swap a hotel for a homestay or purchase locally made handicrafts and delicacies at a local store or street market. Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, for example, is one of the most popular destinations for street markets according to Booking.com travelers with a plethora of day and night markets waiting to be discovered. Book a Doi Suthep Temple Alms Ceremony and Market Tour to explore the city and its markets with a local guide. Visit Tha Pae Sunday Walking Street market for arts and crafts, bask in beautiful locally grown blooms at Ton Lamyai market or chow down on delicious smoked and fried meats and congee (Thai rice porridge) at the Siri Wattana market. 

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Visitors can save their carbon footprint and bed down at Baan Boo Loo Village - SHA Plus, situated in Chiang Mai’s Old Town district and only a short walk away from the markets. This Travel Sustainable, family-owned villa is uniquely decorated with traditional Thai style rooms, woven furniture and incredible views overlooking the surrounding gardens and mountains. Guests can enjoy a tasty breakfast each morning, where the chef takes time to explain the local ingredients used in each dish. Cooking classes are also offered, where guests can try their hand at recreating the flavorsome dishes. 


Try regional fresh produce

Eating local food is a great way to support the community and has the added benefit of often being fresher and tastier than imported supermarket alternatives. There’s a multitude of destinations around the world where travelers can sample delicious regional fare. For foodies, the northernmost island of Hokkaido in Japan is an exciting place to visit. The port town of Hakodate offers a range of seafood delights, from fresh fish and prawns to squid and crab, making it no surprise that this destination comes highly recommended by Booking.com travelers for its fish markets. Visitors can stop by the Hakodate Morning Market before heading to Donburi Yokocho Seafood avenue to taste some of the succulent dishes. Ikkatei Tabiji serves up homemade gratin with crab, cream croquettes and egg rolls which are all a huge hit with customers. The bright orange Yubari King melons are highly prized for their sweetness and grown in the land’s volcanic ash soil, while the nectarous Densuke black watermelons are also grown exclusively on the island – both local must-tries. Don’t miss out on the Sakura either, a creamy soft cheese aged for 10 days that has a pickled cherry blossom in the center, making it visually reminiscent of the Japanese flag.

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Just a short drive from Hakodate Morning Market is traditional Japanese inn Yunokawa Onsen Emi Hakodateya. A hot spring bath ensures guests can enjoy a relaxing soak after a morning exploring the nearby markets, while a traditional Asian buffet breakfast is served daily.


Go organic

Eating more sustainably doesn’t need to go out the window on vacation. With nearly two thirds (64%) of global travelers reporting that they want to be more conscious of their food consumption while traveling,* it’s clear that it’s at the forefront of people’s minds. With many now more conscious of their impact on the world, accessing organic food around the globe has never been easier, with a plethora of bespoke food restaurants and markets popping up everywhere. The Swedish capital of Stockholm is a highly recommended destination for organic food according to our travelers, and there’s a wealth of delicious eats for visitors to discover, paired with sun and fun. Popular jaunts include Colorfield, a restaurant that claims to ‘delight all the senses’ with dishes made from fresh organic fruits and vegetables in all the colors of the rainbow, as well as Eat Your Garden which offers plant-based ‘sustainable foodservice'. Get familiar with the city on a Sustainable Private Walking Tour from the cherry blossomed Kungsträdgården to Djurgården, the green lung of Stockholm, and learn about local culture and lifestyle from a native guide. 

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Travelers can continue the sustainable efforts with their choice of stay. Travel Sustainable boutique hotel, Hobo offers industrial chic design with sustainability and community at its heart. Organic and seasonal dishes are served at onsite restaurant TAK situated on the 13th floor, where guests can also enjoy panoramic views of Stockholm’s skyline. What’s more, local talent is showcased at pop-up corner SPACEby to promote collaborations between creative start-ups and the hotel. 


Venture to the beach less traveled

Golden white sand and guaranteed sun is what draws people to beach vacations, particularly for the 69% of global travelers who consider a great beach as a key motivator when choosing their travel destination.*** Swap the usual sandy shores for a pebble beach for a less crowded experience this summer. With a variety of beaches, it’s no wonder Baska in Croatia is popular for pebble beaches with Booking.com travelers. Once a small fishing village, this charming coastal town on the island of Krk is a great alternative to the more popular hotspots in Croatia. Visitors should head to Ikovac Beach, just north of the center of town where white pebbles blend seamlessly with turquoise waters for a stunning crystal-clear swim. With an array of watersports and a playground for younger kids, it’s ideal for families, and the more adventurous can hike the island for beautiful beach views from above. For those travelers still wanting that sand-between-their-toes experience, Oprna Bay is a great spot; situated in a beautiful bay near Stara Baška, the beach tends to be less crowded due to its uneven access pathway. 

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Just a short walk away from the coast, Apartment's Đordićv is the ideal place to stay for beach-seeking travelers. This spacious and modern Sustainable Travel-certified apartment, with a balcony overlooking lush gardens, provides guests with information regarding local ecosystems, heritage and culture and invests a percentage of revenue back into community projects. Explore the island community with a Tour of Immortelle Farm in Krk, a family-run farm where visitors can also enjoy a locally sourced brandy tasting.  


Farm-to-table experience

What’s fresher than a farm-to-table experience? This movement has seen a huge rise in recent years, and promotes locally grown and organic foods that allow people to support communities and prevent food miles. As a result, there’s been an increase in farm-to-table experiences globally, with an array of sustainable restaurants popping up in all pockets of the world. Travelers seeking out small-scale farming establishments over larger chain restaurants should head to Goiania in Brazil, a highly recommended destination for farmer’s markets according to Booking.com travelers. This mid-sized city in central Brazil was founded in 1933 and is known for its agriculture and livestock raising which are important economic activities for the destination. Visitors can head to Mercadinho Natureba, a small market focused on selling natural, organic and sustainable produce; each item is carefully vetted to ascertain how the item is produced to ensure it meets market requirements.

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Just a short walk away from the Mercadinho Natureba market is Clarion Goiânia Orion hotel. The modern Travel Sustainable hotel is tastefully decorated throughout, with rooms boasting views overlooking the city as well as a swimming pool, spa with sauna and restaurant that serves locally sourced food including a daily continental breakfast. Guests can take a stroll in one of the two nearby parks, Flamboyant Park and Areiao Park. 

 

 

 

*Research commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among a sample of 30,314 respondents across 32 countries and territories (1,000 from USA, 958 from Canada, 1,009 from Mexico, 1,001 from Colombia, 1,003 from Brazil, 1,017 from Argentina, 1,000 from Australia, 486 from New Zealand, 998 from Spain, 1,003 from Italy, 996 from France, 495 from Switzerland, 980 from the UK, 998 from Germany, 1,014 from the Netherlands, 991 from Belgium, 985 from Denmark, 984 from Sweden, 964 from Croatia, 976 from Russia, 1,008 from Israel, 1,002 from India, 1,004 from China, 925 from Hong Kong, 1,006 from Thailand, 988 from Singapore, 1,002 from Taiwan, 1,004 from Vietnam, 1,004 from South Korea, 1,003 from Japan, 1,006 from South Africa and 504 from Kenya ). In order to participate in this survey, respondents had to be 18 years of age or older, had to have traveled at least once in the past 12 months and must be planning to travel in 2022, and be either the primary decision maker or involved in the decision making of their travel. The survey was taken online and took place in February 2022.

**Endorsement data from Booking.com based on the most recommended and relevant destinations by global travelers for organic foods, street market, fish market, pebble beach and farmer’s market 

***Research commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among a sample of 48,413 respondents across 31 markets (2,000 from USA, 1,864 from Canada, 1,999 from Mexico, 2,003 from Colombia, 2,005 from Brazil, 2,002 from Argentina, 1,020 from Chile, 1,777 from Australia, 818 from New Zealand, 1,999 from Spain, 2,002 from Italy, 1,998 from France, 1,990 from UK, 2,005 from Germany, 2,003 from Netherlands, 985 from Denmark, 999 from Sweden, 910 from Croatia, 918 from Switzerland, 1,986 from Belgium, 998 from Russia, 953 from Israel, 1,999 from India, 1,990 from China, 901 from Hong Kong, 1,775 from Thailand, 1,001 from Singapore, 975 from Taiwan, 1,800 from Vietnam, 1,757 from South Korea, 1,001 from Japan). In order to participate in this survey, respondents had to be 18 years of age or older, had to have traveled at least once  for business or leisure in the past 12 months, and planning to travel in 2022 and be either the primary decision maker or involved in the decision making of their travel. The survey was taken online and took place in January 2022.

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