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Red Sea, Madagascar, Santo Domingo

Verona, 29 August 2011 – A trip in search of beaches and relaxation, exploring new landscapes in a direct, hand-on fashion, learning something new through eco-friendly, ethical activities that allow the visitor to experience nature up close, respecting and preserving it. This is the essence of ecotourism, an international phenomenon that is attracting the interest of a growing number of travellers, and that acts as a counterpoint to the type of tourism that uncontrolledly exploits the natural heritage of the host areas visited. One example of this new style of travel is offered by a number of locations on the Red Sea, a destination that is just a few hours' flight away from Verona, and that is regaining popularity with holidaymakers, partly thanks to the reassurance offered by the Italian government that the area is safe to travel to. The Red Sea has always attracted scuba divers, as a result of the extraordinarily rich variety of coral, fish and sea creatures to be found on the sea bed, visible to the naked eye because the waters are so crystal clear. A number of ideas for eco-friendly, ethical activities are offered by the Gorgonia Beach Resort, designed and built by entrepreneurs from Verona with a "green" philosophy that pays particular attention to the natural surroundings it is set in. The Resort is equipped with water purifying and recycling plants, designed to avoid waste and pollution, and it also regularly organises 'Clean-up' programmes that play an active part in the environmental reclamation of the Wadi El Gemal Natural Park, under the supervision of the Management of the Park, offering guests who opt for this kind of experience an exclusive opportunity to visit the protected area, where they can admire turtles, dolphins, the rare cowfish and a host of migratory birds. Guests are taught to consider the time it takes for the most common objects to break down in the environment, such as plastic bottles (which take between 100 and 1000 years to decompose), chewing gum (5 years) or cigarette butts (3 to 8 years). This helps them become aware of the extent to which a thoughtless action can cause irreparable damage to the ecosystem. The Gorgonia Beach Resort offers all the facilities of a five-star hotel, with entertainment programmes designed especially for families with children (see In Italy, holidays at the Gorgonia Beach Resort are sold exclusively by Francorosso, with offers available from the third week in August – all-inclusive packages for two adults + 1 child under 14 starting at € 1380.00 - as well as other even better deals from travel agencies. Other offers departing from Verona for the Red Sea are available from € 499 per person for 7 days, all inclusive. These offers can be viewed on the websites of the main tour operators operating out of Verona, such as Alpitour, Eden Viaggi, Francorosso, Going, Karambola, Marevero, Settemari, Veratour and many others. Verona Airport offers charter connections for the leading tourist destinations in Egypt.

This summer, Verona has a further new offer for travellers seeking a relaxing seaside holiday that also offers them the chance to discover still-unspoilt natural paradises. On 5 July, Verona Airport began operating flights to Madagascar (Antananarivo), the fourth-largest island in the world, located off the south-western coast of Africa. Madagascar is also an extremely interesting destination for nature lovers, and is indicated by the WWF as one of the countries with the richest ecological heritage in the world. It currently boasts some 50 protected areas, comprising nature reserves and natural parks run by ANGAP (Association National pour la Gestion des Aires Protégées), a non-governmental organisation committed to preserving them. By paying for a permit to enter each of the parks, visitors contribute to raising the funds necessary for their maintenance. The history of the evolution of Madagascar, which broke off from the African continent over 160 million years ago, has allowed a number of animal species to avoid both extinction and evolution. The Lemur (a prosimian) is the best-known example, and there are 51 species of the animal present on the island. Madagascar is home to 265 species of birds, and boasts over 10,000 species of plants and flowers. With a coastline of around 5000 km, a tropical climate, splendid beaches of white sand, long stretches of coral reef and a sea bed that is home to a rich variety of fish, the island is the perfect choice for those who love the sea and scuba diving. The beach, however, is only an introduction to Madagascar, which is also a paradise for trekkers and ecotourists. Return-flight-only offers from € 599 are available departing from Verona from August to October. To view the offers, see Deals for flights + one-week stays, departing from Verona, are offered by Myafrica in collaboration with Ora Hotels (

One of the most popular destinations with Italian tourists looking for a relaxing seaside holiday is Santo Domingo, chosen by 53,277 Italian visitors during the first six months of the year, a rise of 8.26% compared to last year. Blu Panorama Airlines operate direct flights out of Verona for La Romana, with departures every Saturday. Santo Domingo is an authentic Caribbean paradise, where nature remains lush and wild, offering over 500 km of beaches, some of them sparsely frequented and with unspoilt vegetation and others that are busier and popular for their beautiful appearance. The national parks system is designed to preserve the country's animal and plant life, as well as the beauties of the landscape, and is controlled by the National Nature Reserves Office. The National Botanic Garden is a huge green island that springs impressively up from the heart of an urban area, offering the chance to discover 300 different species of orchids, most of them authentic miniature species with exceptionally rare, interesting shapes. Like all the islands in the Antilles, the Dominican Republic also boasts a rich variety of peculiar species of animals, including numerous distinctive amphibians and reptiles, as well as a host of types of birds and a number of endemic species of mammals. In the National Zoological Gardens, visitors can admire the animals moving freely around, with the chance to see the rock iguana, the American crocodile and the popular palmchat, the country's national bird, which lives in palm trees: all of these groups and species are found only in the Antilles. The temperate territorial waters of the Dominican Republic are also visited by the humpback whale, which each year reaches the Banco de la Plata sanctuary from the Arctic regions. Offers start at € 990 for 5 days in three-star accommodation plus return flight Verona-Santo Domingo-Verona, with departures in August or September.