Each year Lonely Planet produces a much-anticipated bucket list ranking of the top spots to travel to in the following year, called Best in Travel.
This year the adventure experts have reimagined the listing to ‘reflect how the world and attitudes to travel have changed’ – so now it’s all about celebrating commitment to community, diversity and sustainability across the world.
The new ‘Best in Sustainability’ ranking includes Gothenburg, Greece and the Rocky Mountaineer train journey in Canada; the Best Tour prize in the ‘Best in Community’ list goes to the UK’s homeless walking tours, Invisible Cities; San Diego gets the ‘Best Cultural Diversity’ accolade, and Australia is praised for its post-bush-fire restoration work.
Best Train Journey – Rocky Mountaineer. ‘This slow-travel option has reduced its Co2 emissions by 18 tonnes per year, increased onboard recycling and introduced initiatives to protect of local wildlife,’ says Lonely Planet
Best Food Destination – Greece. Lonely Planet says: ‘Organic produce markets and island seafood makes it an unintentional leader of the world’s most sustainable food’
Best islands – Palau, Pacific Ocean. ‘Progressive policies and protective measures have put the pristine archipelago at the vanguard of environmental sustainability,’ says Lonely Planet
Gothenburg takes home the Best City Stay gong, which Lonely Planet says is because it has ‘introduced a range of progressive and measurable solutions to achieve fossil-independence by 2030’.
The Rocky Mountaineer is named as the Best Train Journey as a result of its Co2 emissions being cut by 18 tonnes per year, increased onboard recycling and initiatives to protect local wildlife.
Greece is 2021’s Best Food Destination thanks to ‘organic produce markets and island seafood’.
Other category winners in the Best Sustainability list are Palau, Best Islands; Grootberg Lodge in Etendeka Plateau, Namibia – Best Accommodation; and the Virginia Mountain Bike Trail – Best Cycling.
Describing Invisible Cities’ snaring of the Best Tour award, Lonely Planet says: ‘[Invisible Cities is] an exciting social enterprise that offers people affected by homelessness the opportunity to become a tour guide in their own city.’
It adds that it provides ‘engaging and alternative walks’ that ‘bring city stories to life with unique local perspectives for both tourists and locals in Edinburgh, Glasgow, York and Manchester’.
Best Tour – Invisible Cities. A UK city walking tour company and social enterprise providing people affected by homelessness the opportunity to become tour guides in their own city, while also generating funds for homeless projects
Best City Stay – Gothenburg, Sweden. ‘Topping the Global Destinations Sustainability Index,’ says Lonely Planet, ‘the city has introduced a range of progressive and measurable solutions to achieve fossil-independence by 2030’
Zakia Moulaoui Guery, Founder & CEO of Invisible Cities CIC, comments: ‘Our social enterprise doesn’t believe in labels or stereotypes and we want to help as many people as possible to realise their true potential.
‘Through supporting those who have experienced homelessness and training them to become tour guides in their own city, we can help them to change the direction of their lives whilst also offering these one-of-a-kind tours to both locals and tourists alike. It means the world to us that we have been awarded the Best in Travel 2021 award by Lonely Planet and it’s given us a well-needed boost in what has otherwise been a somewhat challenging year.’
Australia, in the same Best In Community ranking, is awarded Best Restoration.
Lonely Planet says: ‘Following the worst bushfire seasons in history, the rainforests, sapphire coasts and endemic wildlife are slowly rising from the ashes thanks to a number of community restoration efforts.’
Best Restoration – Australia. ‘Following the worst bushfire seasons in history, the rainforests, sapphire coasts and endemic wildlife are slowly rising from the ashes thanks to a number of community restoration efforts,’ declares Lonely Planet
Best Accommodation in the Community category – Kazakhstan. ‘Rural villagers are trained in hospitality to provide homestays while acquiring fresh economic opportunities for the local community,’ points out Lonely Planet
Best Accommodation in the Sustainability category is Grootberg Lodge in Etendeka Plateau, Namibia – ‘a luxurious low-impact lodge helping to preserve lion and black rhino populations through community empowerment’
LONELY PLANET’S BEST IN TRAVEL WINNERS 2021
BEST IN SUSTAINABILITY
Best City Stay – Gothenburg, Sweden
Best islands – Palau, Pacific Ocean
Best Accommodation – Grootberg Lodge in Etendeka Plateau, Namibia
Best Cycling – Virginia Mountain Bike Trail
Best Food Destination – Greece
Best Train Journey – Rocky Mountaineer
Best Emerging Destination – Antigua & Barbuda
Best Conservation Programme – Rwanda
Best Walks – Le Vie di Dante, Italy (Roads of Dante)
Best Storyteller – Soraya Abdel-Hadi
BEST IN COMMUNITY
Best Tour – Invisible Cities
Best Restoration – Australia
Best Tourism Project – The Burren Eco Tourism Network, Co Clare
Best Accommodation – Kazakhstan
Best Immersion – Faroe Islands
Best Revitalisation – Medellin, Colombia
Best Trekking – Tesfa Tours, Ethiopia
Best Storyteller – Hesham Moadamani
Best Small Business – Footprint Café, Siem Reap Cambodia
Best Expat Storyteller – Georgette Jupe, Girl in Florence
BEST IN DIVERSITY
Best Under-Explored History – Gullah Islands, USA
Best Cultural Diversity – San Diego, California
Best Welcoming Destination – Amman, Jordan
Best Emerging Voice – Gabby Beckford
Best Accessible Destination – Costa Rica
Best Multi-generational destination – El Hierro, Canary Islands
Best Indigenous food – Hiakai restaurant, Wellington, New Zealand
Best Inclusive Storyteller – Jeff Jenkins
Best Inclusive Tours – Wheel the World, California
Best LGBTQ+ Storytellers – Amsterdam-based bloggers A Couple of Men
Tourism Australia Managing Director Phillipa Harrison says: ‘There is no doubt that this has been the most challenging year our industry has faced, having to first deal with the impacts of last summer’s bushfires followed directly by a shutdown of travel due to Covid-19. But in response to these challenges, we really have seen the best examples of the Australian spirit shining through, particularly as people across the country rallied behind those communities both directly and indirectly impacted by the bushfires, with so many extending offers of support.’
Other winners in the Best In Community ranking include Kazakhstan – Best Accommodation; Faroe Islands – Best Immersion; and Medellin, Colombia – Best Revitalisation.
Further prize-winners in the Best In Diversity list, meanwhile, include the Gullah Islands, USA – Best Under-Explored History; and Amman, Jordan – Best Welcoming Destination.
‘Travel in 2021 and beyond will be a much more considerate exercise than it has been ever before,’ Lonely Planet CEO Luis Cabrera says. ‘With travellers cautiously re-engaging with the world and focusing on ensuring their impact is safe and positive for host communities, we have decided to highlight destinations and individuals that truly enable visitors to make genuine contributions through regenerative travel.’
For more information on the Lonely Planet Best in Travel 2021 list, visit www.lonelyplanet.com/best-in-travel.