Sustainable Travel Index: Embracing a Green Transformation for Recovery in Tourism

March 2021

Euromonitor International has built a Sustainable Travel Index to help destinations and travel businesses make the transition to a more resilient form of tourism, that takes account of positive and negative impacts, balancing environmental, social and economic concerns. The index enables countries to gauge their performance across key sustainability pillars to move from words to action. We bring the index results to life through case studies and provide a source of inspiration.

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Key Findings

Resist volume, create value

Following the devastating impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic, there is a clear change in mindset to resist returning to the volume-driven legacy model. Instead, stakeholders are rallying together to the call of #buildbackbetter through value creation from sustainable tourism.

Real deal

Not surprisingly given the European Green Deal, the top 20 leading countries in the Sustainable Travel Index for 2020 are located in Europe, led by Sweden ranked first with its unique, eco-chic tourism offer that spans Arctic adventures to cool city experiences.

Tourism declares

Mozambique tops the environmental pillar having started its sustainable tourism transformation over 20 years ago. With COP26 in 2021, the warnings from the UNFCCC for urgent climate action to avoid irreversible damage are being heard loud and clear by many.

Shock absorber

With the collapse in travel, destinations had to act with agility, with Iceland, Australia and Norway demonstrating the best performance for sustainable tourism demand, thanks to vibrant domestic tourism sectors and driving high value creation for local communities.

Sin fuel

The elephant in the room is international aviation, sitting outside the parameters of the Paris Agreement. Hopes are pinned on future progress in biofuels, hybrid electric and hydrogen powered aircraft to meet the industry-regulated CORSIA targets.

B positive

The positive social impacts of tourism came to the forefront during the pandemic, vital for jobs, equality, education and poverty eradication. Ever more companies are tracking their direct and indirect impacts, especially by going B Corp.

New model army

Tapping into the zeitgeist, businesses and communities are looking at ways to reap the benefits of opening up to tourism in a safe, seamless and sustainable way, giving rise to a new purpose-driven model that focuses on regeneration as seen with New Zealand.

Introduction

Scope
Key findings

Sustainable Travel Index

Foreword to the index
How the index works
Scandinavia and Europe set the pace for sustainable travel
Top countries for sustainable travel: Sweden in pole position
Movers and shakers to watch
Case study: Sweden - eco-chic to perfection
Why sustainable travel matters in a post-pandemic age
Consumers throw their weight behind brands with purpose
Travel falling short in its level of commitment to action

Environmental Sustainability

Environmental sustainability pillar
Environmental sustainability: top 10 countries
Environmental sustainability movers and shakers
Climate emergency back on the agenda in the run up to COP26
Case study: Costa Rica - reaping the rewards of its long term vision
Case study: Palau - world’s first carbon neutral destination

Social Sustainability

Social sustainability pillar
Social sustainability rankings: top 10 countries
Social sustainability: movers and shakers
Case study: Planeterra puts people at the heart of the experience

Economic Sustainability

Economic sustainability pillar
Economic sustainability: top 10 countries dominated by Asia
Economic sustainability movers bolstered by domestic tourism
Case study: Hong Kong’s resilient tourism economy

Risk

Risk pillar
Risk: top 10 countries
Risk movers and shakers: building resilience
Case study: Proactive approach to cultural heritage

Sustainable Tourism Demand

Sustainable tourism demand pillar
Sustainable tourism demand: top 10 countries
Sustainable tourism demand: transitioning to a value-driven model
Case study: Jordan Trail - creating shared value for all
Case study: New Zealand taking a pragmatic approach to metrics

Sustainable Transport

Sustainable transport pillar
Sustainable transport: rankings
Sustainable transport: movers and shakers
Case study: easyJet - committed to its vision for climate-friendly travel

Sustainable Lodging

Sustainable lodging pillar
Sustainable lodging rankings
Sustainable lodging: positive impact as competitive advantage
Case study: Borana Conservancy - winning combo for conservation

Key Takeaways

Key takeaways to drive sustainable transformation
Call to action

Methodology and Appendix

Sustainable travel index methodology
Evaluation and selection criteria
List of indicators
Index pillars and category weightings
Pillars #1 and #2
Pillars #3 and #4
Pillars #5 and #6
Pillar #7
Greenview CHSB data integration to the index
Geographical coverage
Full index ranking

Travel

Travel encompasses several categories including tourism flows, lodging, travel modes, in-destination spending and booking.

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