The Azores is one destination that challenges over-tourism, with the regional government putting excellent preventative measures in place to reduce the impact of too many visitors. Their goal is to preserve the natural beauty that attracts visitors in the first place, whilst still giving travellers the chance to explore the wonderful islands. At Artisan Travel, we actively ensure that our approach to travel is both authentic and responsible, and we’re thrilled to work alongside local partners to help protect the stunning landscapes of the Azores archipelago.
Working Together To Become A Sustainable Destination
In 2013, the Azores were voted most sustainable tourism destination in the world by Quality Coast and since then, they have been working hard to increase their sustainable practices.
In 2015, the government worked with public and private stakeholders to set a 20,000 cap on the number of beds available at hotels with the aim of limiting the volume of tourists visiting the islands. In 2019, the Azores also became the world’s first archipelago to be certified as a ‘sustainable tourism region’ by EarthCheck, Businesses and government bodies were reviewed by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council to ensure they met different targeted goals - covering everything from environmental conservation to social engagement.
The Azores government has committed to preserving its rich culture and marine ecosystems to maintain the very reasons why travellers are so keen to visit, working alongside the tourism industry and the community to achieve this. Part of this has included renewable energy initiatives such as using geothermal, solar and wind as well as harvesting rainwater. By 2030, the goal is for 80% of the Azores to run on renewable energy.
Conservation is also a strong focus. São Miguel, the most developed of the islands, includes 29% of protected national parkland, with over 60 protected marine areas across the archipelago. Three of the nine islands (Flores, Corvo and Graciosa) are UNESCO-designated Biosphere Reserves, which are areas dedicated to preserving and researching the ecological systems that exist there.
The people of the Azores are just as passionate about the conservation of their home. Once a pro-whaling nation, the population transformed into a sublime whale watching industry that protects their marine life and achieves a sustainable income from this.
Working with Local Partners
The local partners we work with in the Azores are also committed to conservation. On land, they aim to reduce as much plastic as possible. At sea, the crew collects litter such as plastics, fishing nets and ropes and have even removed plastic just in time before sperm whales could eat it! Regular beach cleans are also carried out and a sperm whale sculpture has been built with ocean litter to help raise awareness.
What You Can Do
As visitors to this wonderful destination, some of the responsibility must also fall on us to help preserve the pristine beauty of the Azores. Here are our top tips for travelling more sustainably:
- When hiking or cycling off-road, stick to the trail to minimise erosion and damage
- Bring your own reusable bags and coffee cups to help reduce your plastic use
- Promote eco-tourism by going whale and dolphin watching - strict codes of conduct are in place to ensure humans cause little or no harm to wildlife
At Artisan Travel, we believe in showing you the real side of a destination whilst also keeping conservation of these amazing locations a top priority. We work with a brilliant team of people in the Azores who are passionate about protecting their home as well as showing you all the highlights. You can be assured that your holiday to the Azores is an authentic experience of the very best that the islands have to offer.
Image credit: Futurismo Azores Adventure