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TORONTO — In response to the ongoing issue of overtourism, Intrepid Travel has released its annual ‘Not Hot List’, which highlights lesser-known destinations that deserve the spotlight.
As the world’s largest B Corp-certified travel company, all of Intrepid’s tours are led by local leaders who can guide travellers away from crowds. On a larger scale, the company regularly makes changes to its itineraries and launches new product to introduce travellers to new communities in a sustainable way, aiming to alleviate the negative impacts of tourism while still spreading its economic benefit.
“There’s no reason travel can’t enrich local communities, instead of overwhelming them,” said Intrepid Travel’s CEO James Thornton. “The general public’s awareness has shifted and there is a desire from tourists to ensure they are benefiting the communities they visit and local people they meet, while respecting their cultures, economy and the environment too. The ‘Not Hot List’ aims to meet this growing demand and promote lesser-known destinations that are just as worthy of travelers’ time.”
Intrepid Travel’s ‘Not Hot List’ includes:
• Dakhla, Morocco. Largely inaccessible until a couple of years ago, Dakhla’s white sand dunes, countryside and beaches on the edge of the Sahara remain largely off tourists’ radar. On the brand new Marrakech & Dakhla Adventure, guests spend the night at a traditional Bedouin camp, enjoy renowned seafood straight from the catch and marvel at the beautiful Bahia de Dakhla lagoon.
• Greenland. With more and more operators going to Spitsbergen, Greenland is a great alternative to experience the beauty of the Arctic Circle. The world’s largest non-continental island, where fewer than 60,000 people live, is a literal breath of fresh air. Intrepid Travel just launched its Greenland Expedition, its first dedicated land-based tour of the country.
• The Haida Gwaii Islands. Known as the ‘Galapagos of the North’ for its complex ecosystem and diverse wildlife, Canada’s most remote region – the Haida Gwaii – feels like the edge of the world. It’s also the ancestral home of Canada’s Haida First Nations people, who remain critical to sustaining the country’s north. Intrepid Travel has launched its Haida Gwaii Islands Expedition, where travellers can visit local villages that live in harmony with the wilderness of Naikoon Provincial Park, and hear the First Peoples’ stories during Canada’s National Indigenous Peoples Month.
• Moldova. This tiny country, sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine, only welcomes 160,000 overnight visitors a year (according to the UNWTO), nearly the amount of visitors Croatia sees daily. On Moldova, Ukraine & Romania Explorer, guests can try Moldova’s famous wine on a tour of Milestii Mici winery, home to the biggest wine cellar in the world. They’ll also access the breakaway republic of Transnistria, a ghost of the Soviet past, and marvel at Orheiul Vechi, a 14th-century cave monastery and UNESCO site built inside a cliff.
• Nicaragua. After a period of political unrest, Nicaragua has seen a resurgence in tourism. On the new Best of Nicaragua itinerary, clients spend time at a local indigenous community on Ometepe Island, a lush, rainforest-filled island formed by two volcanos that rose from Lake Nicaragua. They’ll also learn about Nicaragua’s revolutionary past in bohemian Leon, stroll the colorful colonial streets of Granada, then head to Nicaragua’s Pacific coast for the sun, surf and laidback vibes of San Juan del Sur.
• Northeast Cambodia. As of this year, Intrepid Travel removed Sihanoukville (now nearly unrecognizable due to overtourism) from all itineraries, instead choosing to visit lesser-known destinations within Cambodia like the Northeast region, home to lush forests, remote lakes and fascinating temples. On the new Cambodia Expedition: Elephants & Jungles, guests will spend time observing elephants in their natural habitat at the Elephant Valley Project, an initiative that puts elephants’ welfare and treatment first, rather than the tourist dollar.
• Sudan. Few people know that among vast stretches of sand dunes, Sudan holds some of the world’s most incredible archaeological sites, ancient ruins and resilient cultures. While President Trump included the country in last week’s travel ban, restricting travel for Sudanese citizens, the increased attention may actually spur interest in tourism. Following the previous Middle East travel bans, Intrepid Travel saw growth in the region, with travellers wanting to learn about the countries they continually hear about in the news and make their own decisions about them. On the new Northern Sudan Expedition, guests will discover the remnants of great empires, encounter modern Sudan in souks, chai houses and nomadic settlements.
• Sulawesi, Indonesia. Iconic treks like Everest Base Camp have long represented some of Intrepid Travel’s most popular itineraries, but those wanting to discover new places one step at a time can opt for quieter paths, like the Tana Toraja trek in Sulawesi. On the new Sulawesi Expedition: Tana Toraja Trek, guests will traverse dense bamboo forests, stay in traditional villages, and boat past acres of emerald green rice paddies. They will even learn about the infamous Ma’nene death ritual, or the ‘ceremony of cleaning corpses’ – a 900-year- old tradition where the Torajan people dig up and spend time with the dead.
• Tajikistan. Uzbekistan experienced +257% year-over-year growth, making it the number one fastest growing destination for Intrepid Travel. While political and military forces have battled over these regions, life in these isolated areas has changed little in the past centuries. On the new Tajikistan Discovery trip, travellers will spend five nights across Tajikistan’s homestay network, where they’ll immerse themselves in the local traditions.