Destination Inspiration: Fall 2019
Updated: Feb 12, 2020
Whether you’re looking to plan some last-minute fall travel or are simply daydreaming about your wintertime wanderings, this list is for you. Check out this month’s round-up of destinations that are inspiring me with their one-of-a-kind offerings and commitments to social and environmental responsibility.
1. Jackson Hole, Teton County, Wyoming
Why Visit: Teton County has it all -- Yellowstone National Park, colorful fall leaf-peeping, breathtaking mountain scenery, wildlife (elk, moose, bears, you name it!), hiking, skiing, camping, and hot springs, not to mention a fun restaurant scene in downtown Jackson Hole.
Why I’m Inspired: Teton County not only boasts some of the most exceptional scenery and outdoor experiences in the country but has also stepped up as a leader in sustainable tourism. In 2012, Teton County was selected to participate in the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s (GSTC) Early Adopters Program. The Riverwind Foundation, which serves as the managing organization for the Jackson Hole & Yellowstone Sustainable Destination Program, now works to “unite efforts to minimize resident and visitor impacts on the Greater Yellowstone and other ecosystems now and for future generations” (Riverwind Foundation, 2019). To date, the Sustainable Destination Program has engaged countless local stakeholders, provided sustainability training to hundreds of businesses, worked with high school students to craft the “Jackson Hole Sustainability Code of Conduct” for residents and visitors, and so much more.
2. Sugarbush Resort, Vermont
Why Visit: Visit Vermont in the fall or winter and you’ll be rewarded with miraculous autumn colors, never-ending craft beer options (including plenty of seasonal pumpkin ales) and frigid, snowy days that are just made for cuddling up by the fireplace.
Why I’m Inspired: Located in “The Green Mountain” state, Sugarbush Resort is working hard to become a green mountain themselves. Sugarbush has supported a number of large-scale sustainability initiatives, including a multi-year water quality remediation plan for several of the resort’s high-elevation brooks and streams and the development of new solar arrays delivering 2.5 megawatts of clean, renewable energy. The resort has also implemented smaller programs aimed at improving waste management, reducing energy use in snow-making, providing public transportation options, and reducing their fleet’s use of fossil fuels. Ski mountains have large environmental footprints and it’s refreshing to see advancements being made in this sector.
Why Visit: Whether you are in search of changing leaves, rugged mountain hikes, or endless glasses of pinot noir, Oregon is an excellent choice for a fall or winter getaway.
Why I’m Inspired: The Oregon Tourism Commission, known as Travel Oregon, is a semi-independent organization that works to develop Oregon’s tourism sector. Recently, Travel Oregon shifted from serving as a Destination Marketing Organization to a Destination Management Organization. For decades, growth (in visitor numbers, revenue, etc.) was the only goal for the tourism sector. Today, however, as more and more destinations grapple with the negative social and environmental impacts of unregulated tourism, there is growing awareness that unfettered tourism expansion can lead to dire unintended consequences. Travel Oregon is working to drive “community enhancement and economic development” in “smart and sustainable ways,” demonstrating that responsible management and long-term economic success are not contradictory (Oregon Tourism Commission, 2019). This shift, from marketing to management, marks an important and inspiring evolution in the tourism sector.
Why Visit: If you are looking to exchange the chill of winter for something a little balmier, look no further than Belize. This small Central American nation is home to the second largest barrier reef in the world and offers a wide array of experiences, from snorkeling to visiting Mayan ruins to bird watching in the jungle.
Why I’m Inspired: In 1996, Belize established the Protected Areas Conservation Trust (PACT) to support the conservation and management of the country’s natural and cultural resources. PACT is funded in large part by a Conservation Fee paid by all overnight visitors and a head tax paid by all cruise ship passengers. Since its inception, PACT has invested over BZ$33 million (equivalent to approximately USD$16.5 million) in conservation projects throughout the country and has proved that the tourism sector can be a powerful ally in protecting natural and cultural resources over the long-term.