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With its warm, turquoise waters, gently undulating palm trees and sunny climate, it's not hard to see why Fiji is such a popular travel destination. This group of islands in the South Pacific encapsulates the idea of tropical paradise and today over a quarter of the economy stems from travel. While the economic benefits of such booming tourism are great, the ecological drawbacks can be even greater.
Guest rooms are made in the traditional Fijian style with natural, sustainable materials.Selene Nelson
Increased tourism means increased greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption and waste management. Climate change is having a palpable effect on Fiji and other South Pacific islands, where the seasons have become unpredictable and rising sea levels create noticeably higher tides. Dismissal of globing warming just doesn't wash in a country where you can literally see it happening.
Hotels and resorts are some of the worst environmental offenders due to the fact that each guest room requires its own energy and water supply, even when the room is empty. Reducing these quantities is becoming a necessary duty in the travel industry. Thankfully, Fiji is showcasing some of the best examples of sustainable tourism in the world—not just the South Pacific.
Leading the charge is Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort, an island resort that's been a pioneer in green tourism since its opening in the 1990s. Rather than just throwing around a few words like "eco" and "sustainable" like other supposedly green hotels I've visited, almost every feature of Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort is designed to reduce its carbon footprint.
All furniture is made from sustainably harvested materials and using traditional construction techniques.Selene Nelson
But this is, undeniably, a luxury resort—so how can a big, luxury resort manage to be so green? And perhaps more importantly, which of their green initiatives are shaping sustainable travel in the South Pacific and across the globe?