Both Lonely Planet and Conde Nast Traveler have each recently released an interesting array of recommended countries to visit in 2020. These lists give us exotic locations and places that are making sustainable tourism a priority.

During the last two decades, the travel industry has grown both globally and regionally. That growth, however, has seen some downsides, most important of which is the negative environmental impact caused by travelers.

From the slopes of Mt. Everest to the beaches of Hawaii, we are now witnessing terrible acts of pollution and damage to nature and property.

The Madrid Climate Change Conference, or COP25, is currently taking place and focuses on the worsening climate emergency that is impacting lives everywhere. It seeks to strengthen the implementation of the Paris Agreement and bring world leaders together, just like the Climate Action Summit did in New York this past September.

The travel and tourism industry is closely following these talks so that stakeholders can implement the eco-friendly steps. This needs to be a joint effort between travel companies, travelers, and respective countries’ governments. The 2020 list toppers are closer to achieving this goal than others.

Let’s take a look and see what makes them stand out.


The tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan is unique, not just for its incredible beauty but for its criteria of measuring national wealth. Unlike all others, its GDP is secondary to its gross national happiness (GNH). It is no wonder that a country that has a happiness index will have similar goals for its natural environment.

Bhutan’s strict tourism policy operates on a “high-value, low-impact” philosophy. This has helped the tiny nation become the world’s only carbon-negative country. Tourists must pay a high daily fee to explore the nation, but what they get in return is a priceless experience that is unsullied by litter and pollution.

You will find its people entirely in tune with their environment, which is an excellent sign for its government, which is aiming to make Bhutan the first fully organic nation by 2020.


The tiny Caribbean island of Aruba has been a subject of many songs and travel plans. It is known for its breathtaking beauty and rich cultural heritage, which is witnessing a colorful revival. Sustainability efforts are making this already popular destination more popular.

The island, which is under the province of the Netherlands, is in the process of banning the use of reef-harming sunscreens and all single-use plastics by next year. It has also offered itself to be the hub for other countries to test their renewable energy solutions.

Costa Rica

Another popular destination for world travelers, Costa Rica seeks to become carbon-neutral in 2020. Ninety percent of the country’s energy is created by renewable sources, which is more than pretty much any highly developed nation can boast. It is focused on offering biodiverse, safe, accessible, and robust sustainable tourism.


One of the top names on the Conde Nast Traveler list is the idyllic isthmus of Panama. A renewed focus on eco-retreats will offer travelers sustainable ways to explore many islands, along with its sun-drenched Pacific coast, deep tropical forests, and one of the most extensive coral reefs in the Pacific.

Panama’s beauty is well-known, but what is not known is the fact that 100% of food waste is recycled, 100% of the energy used in the island will be solar-generated, and 100% of wastewater will be reused for irrigation at the new eco-retreats.

The retreats themselves are made of certified sustainable wood where single-use plastics will be banned, and 75% of the remote archipelago will not be disturbed. Guests are encouraged to participate in research and conservation efforts.


Morocco makes both lists with its unique blend of stylish, exotic, and sustainable offerings for global tourists. From wellness retreats to eco-adventures, it has something for everyone. It is also undergoing a distinct cultural revival, which is an added attraction for the new-age traveler looking for an immersive experience in faraway lands.