Sustainable Tourism not only benefits the environment and the local communities: but it has also economic advantages. Let’s go to discover why choosing eco-friendly accommodations is so important today.

Sustainable Tourism is of primary importance to our planet and its future, even the UN has underlined that during the International Year of Sustainable Tourism. Let’s go to find out what are the main benefits of sustainable tourism which are not only environmental and social but also economic.

Contributing 80% of GDP and 12% of employment creation, Tourism is the third economic activity in Europe, according to data from the EU. Every year a billion people travel throughout the world (one in nearly six people) and continue to grow. The forecast maintains that, in 2030, the number of tourists will increase to 1.8 million, doubling the number of a few years ago.

Growth forecast of the number of tourist in the world between 2014 and 2030. Source taken fron UNWTO

In a period of fundamental questions about sustainability for our development model, we are also asking what the environmental, economic, and social impacts will be.

Tourism and environmental pollution

On the one hand, tourism represents one of the biggest economic sectors in the world, which makes it an important growth opportunity for the least developed countries. On the other hand, tourism is one of the major causes of pollution and carbon dioxide production. For example, EU data tells us that tourism is one of the first causes of carbon dioxide production in Europe and that over 20% of polluting emissions are associated with accommodations (hotels, etc).

Source from: Sustainable Development and Tourism: Responding to Global Challenges, written by UNWTO and United Nations Environment Programme

The growing awareness of the issue of environmental limits of tourism development is leading us to experiment with alternative methods of tourism and accommodations that are environmentally safe and benefit places and local economies.


How is the demand for sustainable tourism increasing?

Green is no longer just a trend. It’s a way of life” (Fran Brasseux, Executive Director, Hotel Sales and Marketing, Association International (HSMAI) Foundation).

Sustainability is no longer just a trend, it’s a lifestyle. Awareness is increasing of environmental and climatic problems in the same way that knowledge grows of how much each one of us could contribute to solutions to global problems by modifying our way of life.

The number of people choosing vegetarian food, using public transport, and buying in a responsible manner grows.

A survey prepared a few years ago indicates that two-thirds (66%) of consumers over the world prefer to buy products and services to conscious businesses and 46% are willing to pay extra for products or services from socially responsible companies (Nielsen Wire, 2012).

The results of the Observatory SANA-ICE 2016 “All Bio’s numbers”, report increased biologicals purchases in Italy. Italian families as high as 7 out of 10, prefer organic products at least once a year.

Green room
Eco-Friendly Accommodation Al Marnich

How are the demand for eco-friendly accommodation increasing?

Those who travel are more aware of environmental problems and seek to play their part in choosing eco-friendly accommodation.

According to a survey from many years ago by Travelzoo, more than 90% of interviewed American travellers prefer an eco-friendly hotel, for the same price and services that were once no eco-friendly (Travelzoo 2010).

According to the CMIGreen Traveler Study Report, “eco-aware” customers travel more frequently than average customers. In 2009 75,6% spent at least two times away from home and 22% spent from 5 to 8 times away. The same report of 2010 asked responsible travellers how the global economic crisis has affected their travel programs. 54% answered that they spent a green-travel in the last 12 months. The 43% of interviewed are prepared to spend up 5% more to reduce their ecological footprint on their next travel.

Another survey by World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) tells us that a percentage between 10 and 15% of travellers are looking for the unusual and unique. The growth of this type of tourist is much higher than traditional customer segments. These new tourists are described as people “well educated, mature, wealthy, with travel experience, environment-aware and sensitive to social issues and traditional culture, system, and costumes of travel destinations” (UNTWO, Responsible Travel).

3 good reasons to aim to sustainability

As we have observed, the demand for sustainability tourism is growing. So, many tourist activities are implementing good environmental and social practices and choosing ecological certifications and brands.

Investing in sustainability is not only necessary, but it is also beneficial. Making eco-friendly choices in tourist accommodation is useful for three reasons at least:

    1. It creates an added value for the guests more interested in this issue.
    2. It reduces the costs and consumptions (energy, water, and waste in general), and CO2 emissions.
    3. Attention to the environment is contagious. It’s a positive energy to be able to innovate our business. The latter aspect is told effectively in this short video

Author: Isabel Gaval

Trips, literature and the different languages and cultures which exist inspire me. I’ve studied a degree in Translation, and then I’ve decided to use my knowledge to work in sustainable tourism all around the planet. Professional traveller, always looking for sustainability, I’ve decided to explore the planet and, all together, make our best for improving it.
More posts by Isabel Gaval →

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