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Sustainable Tourism: The Future

As the tourism industry grows, it is vital to tackle the greatest threat to global security of the 21st century: climate change.

 Sustainable Tourism Today

As the tourism industry grows, it is vital to tackle the greatest threat to global security of the 21st century: climate change. Tourism alone makes up to 10% of global carbon emissions. In addition, tourism is projected to use the world’s entire annual carbon budget between 2060 and 2070. This means, next to tourism there is no capacity for other sectors to emit carbon. Governments, NGOs, companies, and other entities are focusing on sustainability in our global community and planet by implementing the Paris Climate Agreement. However, international aviation is not part of the Paris Agreement or national reduction targets. Moreover, the travel industry does not practice responsible tourism or promote sustainable travel and is not very transparent with their contribution to climate change and emissions produced. Therefore, a significant change must occur in order to reduce our carbon footprint while making holiday traveling possible in the long term.

Sustainability is mostly practiced in settings such as at home or at the office but often ignored when going on holiday. Travel demand is extremely high causing pollution from multiple related sectors, especially transportation and accommodation. These two sectors alone make up 95% of pollution in the tourism industry meaning responsible tourism needs to be in effect as soon as possible. Airplanes for instance produce the most carbon emissions of all transport methods, while cars come second. As the population grows, more people travel frequently, long haul trips become more affordable, and travel demand increases. In 15 years, total CO2 emissions in the tourism industry will double compared to 2005. In January 2021, a total CO2 of 415 parts per million was emitted. Turning towards sustainable travel, more local destinations, less polluting transportation methods and more conscious accommodation are therefore crucial.

Sustainability as the Core of our Community

Sustainability is not a project or marketing activity. It is ingrained at the heart of our hosts, guests, and platform. This is what makes us sustainable:

Environmental

  • Transport: by choosing tourism closer to home, fewer transport emissions are involved. And as destinations grow closer to everyone, it is possible to support and utilize local and public transportation methods, minimizing CO2 emission numbers.
  • Accommodation: choosing portable or existing homes for a night, decreases CO2 emissions by half compared to staying at an average hotel room per night.
  • Use unused land: by choosing tourism closer to home and using unused land, no damages occur to nature as a result of new constructions.

Economic

  • Giving back to the community: revenues flow back to local hosts and economies. 

Social

  • Healthy lifestyle: starts with conscious choices. We believe that being out and about in nature and with the people you love is an important part of a healthy, happy, and conscious life.
  • Spread of tourism: spreading tourism remains a pain point for many governments. Finding alternative ways to both enjoy leisurely time and being sustainable is the best answer for our future.  

Our mission is to inspire people to reconnect to nature and enjoy a healthy trip. All while contributing to sustainable travel. Sustainability is about the ecological impacts but also how to reuse the resources we have whilst practicing a healthy and conscious lifestyle. 

When conducting research and communicating our plans for a sustainable future in the travel industry, we want to make sure everyone is aware of the steps we take to promote it. We would like to share where our information comes from as well as how and why we came to our results.

Research 

How is our data valid? 

Firstly, it is important to establish the goal of our research. When we do CO2 calculations, we base that on fewer but qualitative sources. The data will not be published for the purpose of sharing findings, but rather to make it easier for anyone who wants to inform themselves about sustainable travel. We want to focus on how people can be aware of their carbon footprint and what they can do to be sustainable.  

Secondly, there is no “one source fits all”. By looking at multiple governmental, non-governmental, and research reports/reviewed sources, we can ensure that the numbers we calculate are as valid as they can be for the early research phase. The short list below is a few of our sources used for our calculations.

  • Wageningen University and Breda University of Applied Sciences 

  • Ourworldindata statistics

  • CO2 reports directly from specific companies 

  • National Archives of UK Government 

After processes of elimination and establishing which sources are better, less than 20 sources were carefully picked overall.  

For now, the early stages of research consist of secondary desk research with regards to economical, social, and ecological factors. Secondary research was conducted as it is the fastest, most feasible, and common approach to systematic investigation. Having access to government and non-government archives, research reports, and data from (university) libraries provides quality insight. We reviewed various sources but not included in the final list, and some sources provided formulas we could use to calculate CO2 emissions to best fit our questions and variables. 

Operationalization

We build a platform accessible to the people who want to participate in positive change. Operationalization is an important aspect of research,  if not just as important as the results, that clarifies findings and numbers. This was tied to the relevant questions posed and our objectives. When conducting research, all our numbers were carefully calculated with three things in mind: 

  1. Only the utilization of transportation and accommodation variables are considered (not the production of a vehicle for example). 

  2. The highest emission factor found was used. 

  3. Certain activities were not considered as they are optional and vary per traveler. 

FAQ

  1. Is our data biased? 

    1. Our data is biased to a lesser extent. Bias can not be avoided completely, however, steps have been taken to ensure that the results are not in favor of calculations related to our company. Please feel free to have a look at our sources and operationalization to understand how we got to the results we did. 

  2. Why is only CO2 calculated (when climate change has multiple factors?)

    1. Climate change is a very complex issue. Scientists and other researchers can calculate numbers and data in more advanced ways than we can. In order to best communicate to the public, we chose to go for a simplified method so that everyone can understand their impact. We encourage everyone to do their own research to understand their carbon footprint.

  3. Why were these sources chosen?

    1. As explained under “How is our data valid”, we chose these sources because secondary desk research is the most feasible approach to both understand and communicate to the public, as well as the best method for the resources we have. 

  4. Why do some variables include CO2 calculations for activities and some don’t?

    1. Our calculations were carefully considered when thinking about activities for different variables. For instance, walking in itself does not produce CO2 but the action of breathing does. CO2 is not an abstract concept but measuring CO2 emission per night per person for different types of accommodation can be. CO2 for sleeping in a campervan one night was included because generators are physically built into the accommodation and that is similar to any other room/Airbnb/hotel room etc.

If you have not looked through our CO2 emissions guide when traveling, you can access the article here.

Maciariello, Joe. “Joe’s Journal: On Creating the Future.” Drucker Insitute, 24 May 2011, www.drucker.institute/thedx/joes-journal-on-creating-the-future/. 

“Carbon Dioxide.” NASA, NASA, 19 Feb. 2021, climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/carbon-dioxide/.

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