Can sustainable tourism reduce your holiday footprint?

We look at how ‘sustainable tourism’ can make a big difference to your holiday’s carbon footprint.

wooden hut against forest background

While flying may be the biggest source of your holiday emissions, there are lots of ways to reduce your carbon footprint when travelling. ‘Sustainable tourism’ has gained a lot of traction in recent years. Simply put, it aims to increase the benefits and reduce the negative impact of tourism, both environmentally and economically.

There are lots of ways to do this before you even get on the plane, and many more once you reach your destination. Here are just a few:

When heading to and from the airport, travelling by public transport is a great way to cut down on emissions. Travelling by coach or rail can produce substantially less CO2 than travelling by car – particularly if you’re driving alone.

Travelling by car is better for the environment than flying, right? Actually, it’s not always that simple. Emissions per passenger depend on a whole host of factors. For instance, if a car carries just one person and a plane is full, the flight could well generate fewer emissions (per-passenger). Journey distance is another big factor. Taking off uses more fuel than cruising, and for shorter flights, this accounts for a larger proportion of the journey – potentially tipping the scales back in favour of driving. Even then, it makes a big difference whether the car you’re travelling in is a state-of-the-art hybrid, or a thirsty petrol. Weighing up the environmental impact of flying vs. driving can be tough, but with tools like offsetting programmes and emissions calculators, it is becoming easier to make informed decisions.

This might sound like a minor change to make, and it is, but it can make an important difference to the sustainability of your trip. Not only is having a handy bottle a great way to stay hydrated in the sun, it means you don’t have to keep buying expensive and environmentally unfriendly bottled water.

The hotel industry is changing fast to become more environmentally friendly – employing everything from motion-sensing lighting to rainwater-harvesting technology to reduce emissions. Staying in an eco-conscious hotel could be a simple way to make a big difference to your overall holiday emissions.

Depending on where you’re staying and what you’re doing on your holidays, you might find the opportunity to support a local, sustainable tour operator. Many of these operators invest much of the money they generate through tourism back into environmental projects, or efforts to preserve local flora and fauna.


There are also things that the aviation industry is doing

Discover what the aviation industry is doing to tackle climate change.