In the latest edition of the Sustainable Travel Index 2023, Europe emerges as the undisputed leader. The region secured the top 17 positions. The survey was conducted by Euromonitor. The leadership continues as Sweden maintains its hold on the first position. Finland closely trailed in second place and Austria secured the third spot. Uruguay surged into the top 20 for the first time, soaring an impressive 15 spots from its previous ranking.

The standout performers over the past five years have been Egypt and the Maldives, according to the survey. Egypt’s resilient tourism industry has outshone other markets. The North African nation bounced back from travel bans and the pandemic. This drove up the average expenditure per arrival. This surge in spending has translated into enhanced value creation through tourism, directly benefiting local communities. The Maldives has made remarkable progress, attributing its success to sustained efforts in bolstering sustainable tourism.

Leaders in Sustainable Tourism

Australia, Iceland and New Zealand have emerged as the front-runners in terms of sustainable tourism. These destinations, known for their longer visitor stays, reap the benefits of their commitment to sustainability. New Zealand leads the charge in regenerative tourism. According to Euromonitor, the country transcended conventional sustainability practices to establish a positive legacy for generations to come.

European nations have long been proactive in championing sustainable tourism, striving to minimize the environmental impact of travel. For instance, Iceland has recently launched a campaign aimed at encouraging fewer, but longer, trips to counter the trend of mass tourism. This initiative seeks to promote a more responsible approach to travel.

Melbourne has secured the top spot in Euromonitor’s Top City Destinations Index for its outstanding sustainability endeavors. With a bold target of achieving net-zero emissions by 2040, the city has become a trailblazer in sustainable urban practices. Madrid and Seville in Spain follow suit as part of the Net Zero Cities initiative, a consortium of 112 European cities dedicated to similar objectives.

Melbourne’s accomplishments span a wide spectrum, including retrofitting buildings for reduced carbon footprint, transitioning to renewable energy sources and fostering green spaces. The city also is noted for hosting carbon-neutral events.

The Indicators

“Our Sustainable Travel Index uses 56 indicators across seven pillars – Environmental, Social, Economic, Risk, Demand, Transport and Lodgings – determining the comparative performance of sustainable travel and tourism for 99 countries through scores and weightings to produce an overall ranking,” Caroline Bremner, Head of Travel at Euromonitor International, said in a press release. “There are three main types of indicators. The health of a destination relating to happiness, equality and social justice, then the specific impacts of tourism on the local environment, such as hotel energy use, followed by the general state of tourism, such as quality of infrastructure or dependency on international demand.”

For her, the Sustainable Travel Index highlights green technology and digitalising the traveler journey as two sure-fire ways to help achieve the road to net zero.

“Partnering with new start-ups in the green tech space could help pave the way for a greener and cleaner travel future,” she said.