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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

The green transition of tourism

Climate change is the most urgent global challenge of our times that affects all spheres of our lives, every economic sector, every region and city. The tourism ecosystem will not only benefit from a cleaner and healthier environment but will also be an important player, contributing to the shared goals of a climate-neutral Europe.

With the European Green Deal, the EU is leading by example by promoting new growth models and by setting climate-neutral goals by 2050. It is already committed to cutting emissions by at least 55% by 2030.

These goals are being implemented through a transformative and streamlined set of policies and legislative initiatives. The 'Fit for 55' package, proposed by the Commission on 14 July 2021, translates the ambitions of the Green Deal into law by revising and adding new initiatives on climate, energy and transport-related legislation.

A greener EU tourism

Greening European tourism is part of the broader objective to develop a more sustainable and responsible ecosystem, a process involving all players at multi-level governance: industry, destinations, national, regional and local authorities, but also the consumer – the tourist.

According to the UN World Travel Organisation, sustainable tourism development "takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities".

Sustainable travel has been steering the European tourism policy for the past years, led by increasing demand and expectations by the travellers and the host communities alike. While the COVID-19 crisis had paralysed travel in the past years, it has been also a unique opportunity to reset, shift the cultural mindset and emerge more resilient. 

By stepping up the greening of the EU tourism ecosystem, industry and destinations would not only contribute to CO2 reduction and a better-protected environment but would also benefit from reduced costs and reinforced competitiveness. Responsible tourists would benefit from an improved travel experience while contributing to the well-being of host communities.

EU support to reduce the environmental footprint of tourism

The EU has been supporting and promoting greener tourism for years. Here are some examples of how the EU is facilitating the process.