The most influential sustainable tourism trends of 2019

Whether you agree or disagree with her, there’s hardly a chance you could have ignored Greta Thunberg this year. And if you did, US President Donald Trump made sure the teen and her message reached headlines. Greta’s environmental movement gathered steam in 2019 and her travels and calls to actions have inspired many to adopt sustainable tourism in the past year.

Here are three trends the sustainable tourism sector has seen in 2019, many of which we are expected to see again in the coming year.

1. Flygskam

In 2019, we’ve become more aware of our carbon footprint when traveling. So much that “Flygskam”, a new Swedish word was coined, which translates as flight shame. It refers to feeling shame for flying based on airplane emissions and people’s increasing sense of responsibility to opt for sustainable travel and tourism using means of transportation with lower carbon emissions. With her European train rides and cross-Atlantic sailing trips, Greta has certainly motivated this trend.

Sustainable travel trends
Flying – will it be reduced as sustainable tourism grows?

Richard Lindberg, our CEO, who is often asked about the stance of One Planet Rating when it comes to flying, has a nuanced vision of flygskam:

“With 10 years sustainability experience I’m acutely aware of the dangers of climate change and how the airline industry contributes. The figure is around 5-8 % of global emissions and projected to grow as air travel becomes more affordable. While emissions from airlines must come down, we don’t believe in personal shaming. Every person has different life situations and reasons to fly. Lifestyle changes will play a part but airlines simultaneously need to lower emissions and shift to biofuels and later on electrification”.

2. Countermeasures to Overtourism

According to UK tour company Responsible Travel, overtourism is an issue in six of the seven continents. They’ve compiled a list of places suffering from overtourism in an interactive map which can be accessed here.

Overtourism in action
Overtourism in action

To tackle overtourism, we have witnessed an emerging trend this year which involved charging a fee to tourists in places where tourism has exceeded a tipping point. Venice, for instance, is all set to charge day-trippers fees as high as €10 for the peak season to enter its historic centre (set to be in effect from July 1st 2020).

3. Slow Travel and Sustainable Tourism

Slow travel is about replacing the frantic exploration of a holiday destination by slowing the pace and focusing not only on the destination, but also on the journey. Think of leisure walks, flexible itineraries and more open schedules.

Scenic train ride
Trains – sustainable tourism in action

While slow, sustainable travel and tourism does include taking the train, walking, biking or sailing instead of flying, the chosen mode of transport is not the key element here. Slow travel is more about changing one’s mindset when traveling and being a more mindful, sustainable traveler. It is about exploring destinations and indulging in the local culture, without stress or without jumping from one place to another.

Want to know more? Read our guide on slow travel.

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