National Geographic Traveler

Authentic, unspoilt and likely to remain so

In 2007 the National Geographic Traveler carried out a survey among 111 island communities all over the world. In the words of National Geographic Traveler the reson for doing an island survey was that "islands symbolize vacation. Escape! Their very insularity makes them attractive. They are worlds unto themselves—their own traditions, ecosystems, cultures, landscapes. That's what attracts us. But as micro-worlds, islands – the world’s most appealing destinations - are the ones most prone to tourism overkill."

In the survey a panel of 522 well-traveled experts in sustainable tourism were asked to rank 111 different islands. This survey rates the qualities that make a destination unique—"integrity of place".

The panelists were asked to evaluate just the islands with which they were familiar, using six criteria weighted according to importance:

  • Environmental and ecological quality
  • Social and cultural integrity
  • Condition of historic buildings and archaeological sites
  • Outlook for the future

Below are edited excerpts of the panelists' comments offering a glimpse of their points of view and the reasoning behind the scores:

  • Superb glaciated landscape with improbably steep slopes. Little flat land. Local society unified and resolutely Faroese, not Danish, with own language, etc. Built heritage, down to the grass roofs, reasonably protected, certainly cherished. Most tourists adventurous and well-informed."
  • "Cultural integrity strong. On Koltur, visitors can meet a farmer, tour the island, experience a living museum of farm life today, and sample local traditional cuisine. The farmer is part of a green certification program. If the numbers of cruise ships continue to grow rapidly, there may be problems with island carrying capacity."
  • "All new buildings are required to maintain historic architecture."
  • "Quite rightly, tourists are expected to be like the Faroese, such as taking choppy ferries and hiking through any weather. The future could bring severe social and environmental impacts, but the Faroese are aware of the dangers and are debating solutions."
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