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Tourism and Sustainability After Covid-19

Jenna Stetter April 22, 2021

Where you like to travel to whether it be within the U.S. or internationally? Now I have another question. Have you ever thought about sustainability while you have been planning your trip?

In a Washington Post article, Bailey Berg explores the new correlation between the tourism industry and environmental awareness. I think we are all aware that COVID-19 has significantly impacted the travel industry because many countries shut down their borders. Within the U.S., the government initially limited who was able to travel. However, that is not the only effect that COVID-19 had on the travel industry. Since the pandemic began, there has been a gradual shift in the mindset of travelers. The pandemic gave some people time to see and notice the importance of sustainability and environmental awareness especially with concerns to travel. A growing number of travelers have become more environmentally aware and want to be better stewards/stewardesses of the Earth.

Currently, tourism contributes to 8% of global greenhouse gases and is estimated to consistently grow at 4% a year (Berg, 2021). During a tide of change, some travelers have decided or wish to travel with eco-awareness. In a global report from Booking.com, they found that 53% of global travelers want to travel more sustainably in the future (Booking, 2020). They also reported that 69% “expect the travel industry to offer more sustainable travel options” (Booking, 2020). 

The Future of Tourism Coalition is a group of six non-profit organizations with the mission to bring awareness to different international government agencies, businesses, associations, and organizations to promote sustainable traveling/tourism. Some of the groups that have signed onto the Future of Tourism Coalitions’ 13 guiding principles are Hilton, Lindblad Expeditions, the World Wildlife Foundation, and the Slovenian Tourist Board among others. The 13 principles are the following (Future of Tourism, 2021):

  • See the whole picture
  • Use sustainability standards
  • Collaborate in destination management
  • Choose quality over quantity
  • Demand fair income distribution
  • Reduce tourism’s burden
  • Redefine economic success
  • Mitigate climate impacts
  • Close the loops on resources
  • Contain tourism’s land use
  • Diversify source markets
  • Protect a sense of place
  • Operate business responsibly

Do you think that the travel industry should adapt to sustainability efforts and mindset for the long term?

I believe that the travel industry should adapt to sustainability efforts because of the rise of environmental awareness. Changes in the environment will also change tourism in certain locations. To maintain these locations, businesses and other groups should actively try to reduce any excessive use of the land. Also, as mentioned in the global report by Booking.com, more travelers are looking for companies and businesses to do more to offer sustainable options. Also, I think it would be in the interest of the businesses to listen to the increasing call from consumers to be more eco-friendly.


Berg, B. (2021, March 4). As the pandemic prompts eco-awareness, the travel industry responds. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/travel/green-travel-consumer-priorities-values/2021/03/04/d11b102c-76d7-11eb-9537-496158cc5fd9_story.html. 

Booking. (2020, October 29). Smarter, Kinder, Safer: Booking.com Reveals Nine Predictions For The Future of Travel. https://globalnews.booking.com/smarter-kinder-safer-bookingcom-reveals-nine-predictions-for-the-future-of-travel/. 

Carbon-Footprint-Tourism-Chart-STI-Web. Sustainable Travel International. (2020, October 7). https://sustainabletravel.org/issues/carbon-footprint-tourism/carbon-footprint-tourism-chart-sti-web/.

Future of Tourism. (2021). Guiding Principles. Future of Tourism. https://www.futureoftourism.org/guiding-principles. 

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