The Global Sustainable Tourism Review by QualityCoast has named the Azores the leading green destination in Europe, awarding the Portuguese island chain a score of 8.9 out of 10. The Azores are on the organization’s list of the 100 Most Sustainable Destinations of the World.
In 2014, the Azores earned the QualityCoast Platinum Destination award, created to recognize quality standards related to marine life, nature and coastal areas as well as identity, culture, and society, all which affect the experience of tourists visiting the region.
The Azores are considered among the best sustainable destinations in the world for reasons including the following:
• Just 5% of the island chain’s land is occupied by buildings
• The Azores are protected by regional law against the cultivation of GMOs
• Currently, 28% of energy produced in the Azores comes from renewable sources; that number is expected to reach 75% in 2018
• The Azores include two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the City of Angra do Heroismo on Terceira, and the Landscape of the Pico Island Vineyard Culture
• Graciosa, Flores, and Corvo are Biosphere Reserves, which certifies the conservation of the natural world, the balance in the relationship between the population and the surrounding environment, and demands the creation of logistical conditions for the development of activities that promote good environmental practices and scientific research
• Focus on geotourism promotes and protects the geological heritage of the volcanic islands
• Focus on ecotourism, including activities like whale watching and hiking, promotes education and awareness among locals and visitors alike
The Sustainable Destinations Global Top 100 list, launched at the end of 2014 for the first time, aims to celebrate the management efforts of the most sustainable destinations on Earth. The list is the result of open calls in social media followed by evaluation and selection by 30 international tourism sustainability experts.
“The Global Top 100 aims to recognize tourism destinations that have worked hard to make a difference and take sustainability seriously,” said Albert Salman program director.