46th Place: Costa del Sol, Spain
Possible metaphors for Costa del Sol's standing among the independent panelists, two ships rest on the bottom of the port at Malaga.
Costa del Sol also bottomed out in the first Destinations Rated survey by the National Geographic Center for Sustainable Destinations
in 2004--and for many of the same reasons, including overdevelopment, pollution, and stressed water resources.
Though some parts of the region are singled out as ripe for renewal, Costa del Sol's economic dependence on British an German retirees could be a problem. The area, said one panelist, "is likely to suffer as the world economic situation causes them to return home."
Generally speaking, though, writes the center's director, Jonathan Tourtellot, in Traveler
magazine, "If there is a blessing to the global economic downturn, it is the respite from such rampant, quick-buck degradation of Earth's remaining beautiful places."
Photograph by Gervais Courtellemont/National Geographic Stock