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European Sustainability Schemes

Publication date:
Jun 2019





According to the UNWTO, in the last decade tourist arrivals in Europe have increased 4% a year on average, with this number projected to represent 744 million by 2030. As tourist arrivals grow so do the impacts on a destination’s natural and built environments and on the wellbeing and culture of residents. Sustainability matters have received increased attention in the last few years, leading to the emergence of numerous sustainability programmes, certifications and awards aimed at encouraging destinations to address existing gaps in terms of sustainable development and acknowledge the efforts of those that are addressing these gaps.

In recognition of the increasing importance of sustainability within European tourism development at a national level, ETC is keen to act as a bridge for future users in helping its members develop a better understanding of the potential of sustainability schemes as a vehicle to increase a destination’s attractiveness and influence travellers’ destination choice.

This report provides an overview of the current situation regarding the use of sustainability certifications, awards and programmes within Europe. It details the principle schemes available, provides an analysis of the level of engagement across Europe and showcases some inspiring examples of the approach taken by three National Tourism Organisations to integrate sustainability into destination management. It also offers recommendations on the factors that need to be bought into play to implement sustainable tourism and capitalise on the existence of successful sustainability schemes more effectively. In this respect it should be seen as the start of a process of further engagement in the area of sustainability in tourism and a call to action to drive positive change.