Germany’s approach to balancing economic growth with environmental responsibility in tourism could serve as a blueprint for other nations to follow.
The country has successfully expanded its tourism industry while simultaneously reducing its carbon footprint through various sustainability initiatives – reveals a new, jointly produced report from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and the Saudi-based Sustainable Tourism Global Center.
These efforts include promoting eco-friendly travel options, incentivizing the use of electric vehicles and bicycles, constructing energy-efficient accommodations, and implementing a certification program for hotels that adopt sustainable practices. As a result, there has been an increase in demand for sustainable tourism experiences and eco-friendly accommodations.
Julia Simpson, president and CEO of World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), said in a statement, “Our data shows that Germany is one of the few travel and tourism powerhouses, which is decreasing its absolute emissions whilst continuing to grow year-over-year.”
The travel and tourism industry in Germany produced 10.3 percent of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2019. However, in 2020, that figure decreased by over four percentage points to 5.9 percent, and then decreased again to 5.8 percent in 2021.
Although the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in Germany’s travel and tourism industry are largely attributed to the effects of the pandemic, the report highlights that from 2010 to 2019, prior to the pandemic, the industry had already achieved a “decoupling” of greenhouse gas emissions from its growth. This means that despite an increase in the industry’s size and revenue over the period, its greenhouse gas emissions did not increase proportionally.
Between 2010 and 2019, Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions decreased by an average of 1.1 percent per year, while the travel and tourism industry’s contribution to the country’s economy grew by an average of 1.5 percent each year during the same period.
“The figures also show that the sector’s emissions intensity continues to decrease,” says the report.
According to the report, the greenhouse gas emissions per Euro generated by Germany’s travel and tourism industry decreased from 0.55 kg in 2010 to 0.43 kg in 2019. In the subsequent years, this figure has continued to drop, reaching an all-time low of 0.36 kg per Euro in 2021.