European Tourism Sector Faces Challenges in Achieving Sustainability


Key Takeaways

  • The Travel Foundation warns against returning to pre-pandemic travel norms, citing sustainability concerns and the clash with emissions targets.
  • Calls for investing in greener travel modes like rail, monitoring environmental impacts, and implementing temporary caps on long-haul flights align with Paris Agreement goals.
  • Emphasizes the need for systemic changes to make environmentally friendly travel options more accessible and evident to travelers.

Bristol, England–The European travel sector is slowly returning to pre-pandemic levels. But the Travel Foundation, a tourism charity based in Bristol, warns that returning to “business as usual” may not be sustainable for the environment in a world aiming for net-zero emissions.

According to a CNN video report, the charity emphasizes that changes in travel patterns are needed, or travel may have to be reduced. They argue that the inherent growth-driven nature of tourism is at odds with necessary climate and emissions goals.

Strategies for Sustainable Travel

As per the video report, The Travel Foundation’s report calls for significant investments in greener travel modes such as rail and electric cars. It also advocates for temporary caps on long-haul flights and more precise monitoring of the environmental impact of tourism. This is all in pursuit of the emissions targets set by the Paris Agreement to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

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In the video report, Ben Lynam, Head of Strategic Communications at the Travel Foundation, clarifies that the goal is not necessarily to reduce the number of trips but to change how we travel. He stressed the need for systemic changes that make environmentally friendly choices obvious and accessible.

Balancing Sustainability and Travel Choices

However, pushing individuals to make sustainable choices can be unfair, especially when faced with options like inexpensive flights versus costly train travel. To address this, the Foundation advocates for systemic changes that make sustainable choices more obvious and affordable.

The video report noted that, on the other hand, some in the tourism industry argue that trips farther from home can still be sustainable. For instance, Much Better Adventures, a tour company that plans holidays with the environment in mind, contributes 5% of its revenues to conservation projects and encourages travelers to engage directly with local communities.

As per the report, the Founder and CEO of Much Better Adventures, Alex Narracott, believes in maximizing the benefits to the local community and environment when tourists fly. He expresses optimism that customer demand for sustainable options is growing. However, he also points out the lack of adequate, sustainable choices and the need for quicker policy and regulatory changes.

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Challenges and Opportunities Ahead

As the European tourism sector recovers from the pandemic’s impact, sustainability poses a considerable challenge. It demands an intersection of travel habits, policy changes, and industry practices to navigate the path toward a more sustainable future.
See more in the CNN video report.

What We Think

The Travel Foundation’s stance highlights the urgent need for a paradigm shift in travel habits towards sustainability. It’s crucial to not only rethink modes of travel but also ensure accessible, affordable eco-friendly options.

Industry and policy changes must align to make sustainable choices more appealing and feasible for travelers. Balancing environmental responsibility with the desire to explore requires innovative solutions and concerted efforts from both travelers and the tourism industry to build a more sustainable future for travel.


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