ABTA Magazine, the publication representing the UK’s largest Travel Association, released its top destinations for ecotourism recently and in second place was the amazing Greek island of Alonissos.
A few decades ago, the most important criteria when booking a holiday were good weather, nice digs and proximity to the beach, city centre or slopes. Today, there’s a new factor to consider: sustainability.
As travel customers become more conscious of their impact on the environment, they apply the same philosophy to their travel plans. According to research from Booking.com, 83 per cent of global travellers think sustainable travel is vital – and 61 per cent say that the pandemic motivated them to travel in a more eco-friendly way.
The magazine said
"A newer addition to the ecotourism clan, Alonnisos has been promoting its green efforts for the past two decades. Part of the Sporades archipelago, floating in the Northern Aegean, the island is home to the Natural Marine Park of Alonnisos. Its limestone caves form the habitat of the Mediterranean monk seal – visitors can only encounter these endangered creatures as rescue and rehabilitation volunteers.
Beneath the park’s waters also lies the well-preserved Peristera shipwreck, which opened as Greece’s first underwater museum in August 2020. There’s plenty to see on land, too, and the best way to discover it is on foot. Stay at Ikion Eco Boutique Hotel in Patitiri, then venture out on one of the dozens of hiking trails through the rocky but lush landscape. Just make sure you don’t pack your picnic in a plastic bag – they’ve been banned since 2015.
In 2020, the island of Alonissos once more excelled by opening the world’s first underwater museum. "The Underwater Museum of Peristera".
This museum featured the shipwreck of Peristera from the 5th Century BC and went on to win a European Award in the same year.
It is not unusual that ABTA Magazine pointed to both the Natural Marine Park and the Underwater Museum as two of the three reasons for which Alonissos was selected as the number two destination for ecotourism. The third reason is the banning of plastic bags from the island, which was imposed in 2015. The island also offers a plethora of hiking trails and other, less invasive activities, which appeal to eco-friendly tourists.