Tourism and travel form the world’s largest industry, accounting for 8.8 trillion U.S. dollars (or 10.4%) of the global economy in 2018; however, its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions is almost as high at 8%. Between 2009 and 2013, the tourism industry’s carbon footprint increased from 3.9 to 4.5bn tonnes of CO2 equivalent, with estimates predicting further growth to 6.5bn tonnes by 2025.
Tourism is hugely beneficial in some ways, being one of the best ways to redistribute wealth from rich to poor nations, from North to South, and from urban to rural areas. Eco tourism provides an incentive to conserve a country’s heritage and its natural ecosystems, promotes cultural understanding on all sides, and also benefits the tourists themselves in terms of health and relaxation.
On the other hand, tourism is also one of the greatest environmental threats, above all due to the impact of air travel while the world’s holiday destinations are changing in any case.
Your holiday can have a severe environmental and social impact once you arrive at your destination too. Yet there are many green alternatives available – see our section on reducing the impact of your holiday.
Some more eco-friendly tour operators and other useful contacts are listed in holiday companies.