The problem with global tourism

Tourism accounts for about 5% of global carbon emissions, which are mainly caused by intensive air travel and accommodation heating, air-conditioning, and more. In addition to tourism’s climate impact, year-round overcrowding in popular holiday destinations can decrease the quality of life for locals, too, as shown by rising housing prices and tourist-oriented shops replacing local grocery stores, for instance. 

5 initiatives for sustainable tourism

The Young Impactmakers Community hosted a Sustainable Travels event and invited impact-driven enterprises to pitch their ideas on environmentally and socially responsible ways of travelling. These were:

  • Green Tickets: A travel planner website and movement (#ikreisanders) that collects data on the best travel routes using door-to-door alternatives. For every option, Green Tickets shows the price, duration and climate impact to help you find the ideal way to travel.
  • Sustainable Travels: This initiative believes that sustainable flying is possible but lacks the necessary tech innovation. With Sustainable Travels, you can offset your flights by investing in technologies for alternative air transport.
  • Better Places: A social enterprise that operates through a network of travel partners, Better Places puts travellers in contact with local experts who help design a tourist’s ideal travel experience in an easy, affordable, and responsible way.
  • Alternative Tourist Office: A tourist office in-the-making that offers tourists in Amsterdam trips to authentic, local attractions. Alternative Tourist Office wants to reduce overcrowding of mainstream attractions and to support authentic engagement with locals in and around Amsterdam.
  • The Turn Club’s Green Culture training camp: An initiative set up to combine the Green Culture World conference in Montenegro with a sustainable return trip by train. The idea is to support the cause from the moment you step on the train and to start sharing ideas with like-minded changemakers.

Lessons learned

We found out that travelling far and irresponsibly doesn’t just have a social or environmental impact. It also affects the travellers themselves, who spend precious time and energy stuck in passport control or on 11-hour flights, to give just a few examples. The first lesson of the evening was that consumers should become aware of the true personal cost of travelling, which is more than just financial!

However, travelling has many benefits: from experiencing new cultures to reconnecting to nature and time to unwind! Instead of giving these up, we should question our habits and ask ourselves: “Do I really need to fly across the world to go hiking? Is there a closer and equally beautiful alternative?” Such questions bring us to the evening’s second lesson: travelling less and to nearby destinations is better for both the environment and local economies!

Do you have a business idea for sustainable tourism or another impact area? Want to share it and get valuable feedback? Join our Young Impactmakers community to meet and connect to other talented young people, and discover inspiring events and career opportunities!