I participated in the 2009 National Geographic Traveler Destination Scorecard Places Rated survey, in which 437 travel experts were asked to rate 133 of the world’s most celebrated and iconic travel destinations, specifically, how well they have each “weathered the pressures of mass tourism and other threats.” This is the 6th year that National Geographic Traveler, in conjunction with National Geographic Society’s Center for Sustainable Destinations, has done the survey, which provides an interesting snapshot of these destinations as they change. The survey is the cover story of the November-December 2009 issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine, on newsstands Nov. 3.
I contributed to the section on Belize’s reefs and islands, which scored a 59 out of 100. The area is cited as being “right in the crosshairs of overdevelopment,” with challenges that include cruise tourism growth, inadequate tourist education, and lax enforcement of environmental regulations. Belize is becoming a very popular destination and is often included in some of the best cruise deals around at the moment. Pictured above: Goff’s Caye, which is completely overrun with tourists on cruise ship days.
“We hope the survey will bring attention to the places faring well, as well as to those in trouble, often due to reckless development and commercialism,” said Jonathan Tourtellot, director of the Center for Sustainable Destinations, which conducted the survey. “If there is a blessing to the global downturn, it is the respite from such rampant, quick-buck degradation of Earth’s remaining beautiful places.”