5 Sustainability Lessons from Bhutan

Bhutan, a relatively small country with a population of around 750,000 people, nestled deep in the Himalayans, between China and India, is now the only carbon negative country in the world. The 72% forest coverage and low production of CO2 has transformed Bhutan into a “carbon sink”, absorbing over 6 millions tons of carbon annually while only producing 1.5 million tons.

However, this is not accidental; Bhutan has a number of policies and national programs in place to protect the country’s environment, society, culture and traditions.

bhutan

  1. High value, low impact tourism

Kingdom of Bhutan’s travel policy is “high value travel, low impact/ volume tourism” to keep its exclusivity and ensure travellers are getting an enriching experience there while avoiding mass tourism that might negatively impact the environment and society.

The country requires a visa ($40 per day), and tourists must pay the “Minimum Daily Package” that can only be arranged through an officially approved travel tour or agent. The package costs around $250 per day during high season, and $200 per day during low season and includes majority of things you would need such as accommodation, food, tour guide, camping and trekking equipment, as well as a $65 daily sustainable development fee. This model allows Bhutan to ensure there is a limited number of tourists in the country at a time.

2. Focus on population happiness rather than economic growth

Political decisions in Bhutan are mainly based on their Gross National Happiness growth index rather than Gross Domestic Product  growth index, placing more importance on wellbeing of the population and environment rather than economic growth at the expense of the environment.

3. Nature preservation

72% of the country is still forested and a ban is put in place to ensure forested areas will not drop lower than 60%. A ban has also been put on export logging and the government has started to provide rural farmers with free electricity to lessen their dependence on wood stoves for cooking.

Bhutan also set a Guinness World Record in 2015 by planting almost 50,000 trees in just 1 hour and in 2016 tens of thousands of people turned up to plant 108,000 trees to celebrate the birth of the prince (talk about a great birthday gift!).

5. Ambitious plans to continously improve

The country is determined to further minimise their environmental impact and has put ambitious plans in place for that. By 2030, Bhutan plans to reach zero net greenhouse gas emissions and zero waste, change all cars to electric cars, and have 100% organic food by 2020.

Watch this inspirational TED talk by Bhutan’s Primer Minister Tshering Tobgay about the country’s mission and commitment to the environment.

Top 13 Travel Destinations for this Fall

best destinations to visit this fall

Fall is one of the best times to travel as the temperatures are pleasant in many parts of the world and the prices much more affordable, especially in Europe that can be extremely pricey in summer. Whether you’re looking for a city break, an outdoor adventure, or a foodie trip, here’s our round-up of best destinations to visit this fall:

  1. Paris, France

Fall is the best time to visit Paris. The temperatures are pleasant for travelling around, most of the tourists are gone, the leaves are changing colour, and there is just something in the air giving Paris that melancholic feel.

  1. Lake District, UK

Almost 5 hours by car or about 3 hours and a half by train from London, you will find one of UK’s most beautiful natural areas, the Lake District. Enjoy peaceful walks, cosy lunches in traditional pubs, and relaxing days at some of the best spa’s in UK.

  1. Vermont, USA

Vermont is one of the best places to enjoy fall colours. There is an abundance of outdoor activities making it perfect for family trips and with Halloween and Thanksgiving just around the corner it’s the perfect time to visit the area.

  1. Marrakech, Morocco

Weather starts cooling down from the scorching heat of August while still getting some warmth and sun making Marrakech very pleasant to visit. Enjoy shopping, luxurious spa days, or take a trip to the desert.

  1. Hanoi, Vietnam

Autumn and Spring are two best seasons to visit Vietnam. Hotels, transport, and restaurants are very affordable, and there is a plethora of things to do. Depending where you’re flying from it can be a struggle finding direct flights so you might want to make it into a longer trip and visit a few different places in Vietnam while you’re there.

  1. Kyoto, Japan

A short bullet train trip from Tokyo, catch the beautiful colours of fall in Kyoto and escape the crowds usually found during spring and summer. There is no shortage of attractions and things to do in Kyoto with plenty of temples, shrines, gardens, markets and Michelin starred restaurants.

  1. Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Although a stunning destination all-year round, April through November is one of the best times to visit the Great Barrier Reef before the heat and humidity of December kicks in.

  1. Vancouver, Canada

Often ranked as one of the best cities to live in the world, September through November, when the tourist crowds are gone, is the perfect time to visit this wonderful city and find out why so many people fall in love with it.

  1. Taipei, Taiwan

Taipei has made a reputation in recent years as a foodie destination. The city is clean, safe, modern with great transport links making it easy to get around from one foodie place to another. Night markets are one of the best in Taipei, and a must visit if you’re there.

  1. Swiss Alps, Switzerland

Great for family trips and not only, the Swiss Alps are great for outdoor walks while admiring the leaves changing colour.

  1. Himalaya, Nepal

For outdoor adventure, best time to trek the Himalayans is during fall however this is also when the bulk of tourists visit the region so expect to be sharing that amazing scenery with quite a few others.

  1. Douro Valley, Portugal

Fall is probably the best time to visit Douro Valley as the weather starts cooling down making it perfect for wine tasting and vineyards tours, cycling, restaurants hopping and spa days.

  1. Piedmont, Italy

Piedmont is Italy’s truffle region, famous for the very expensive white truffle. October through December is harvest season for these wonderful delicacies and also when the area is the busiest with tourists however the food in the region is so good, with an abundance of Michelin starred restaurants, that you wouldn’t want to miss it.