The tourism sector alone produces 11% of France’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, says Ademe (2021). Great efforts therefore remain to be made to limit its footprint… and save it itself! Because many regions are already suffering from rising temperatures, fires, lack of water, coastal pollution, melting glaciers… “An increasing number of professionals are committing to an eco-responsible approach and labels are flourishing in response to the ecological emergency and to the expectations of increasingly aware holidaymakers, notes Julien Buot, director of the association and the Acting for Responsible Tourism (ATR) label.It is up to us to do our part by choosing destinations, “light” equipment, transport and activities, and respecting, in particular, the Ethical Charter for Travelers.” If there are no “zero carbon” holidays, we can all aim for a neutrality beneficial for the world of tomorrow, where we would always like to have a great holiday.
And if we avoided the worst, that is to say the 5% of the planet where 95% of tourists are found, according to the World Tourism Organization? In their No List 2023, the American editions Fodor’s point out the areas most exposed to the depletion of resources, erosion, pollution… To be avoided: Lake Tahoe (United States), Antarctica, Venice and the Amalfi Coast (Italy), Cornwall (Great Britain), Amsterdam (Netherlands), Thailand or, in France, the Calanques National Park, near Marseille, and Étretat, in Normandy. And the list is not exhaustive…
“In France, many territories advocate slow tourism that is more green”, assures Victoria Morin, consultant for companies in transition and trainer for the Fresque du climat (2). More and more ethical platforms (We Go GreenR, Explora Project, Fairbnb, etc.) offer more responsible routes and accommodation than closed-circuit hotel complexes, which do not benefit indigenous populations. In France and abroad, we can organize our trip with local, independent and certified players.
Transport accounts for 77% of carbon emissions from the tourism sector, with air travel weighing the heaviest. “We should limit the number of flights and long haul,” encourages Victoria Morin.
To be preferred: the train, champion of low carbon. The possibilities of night trips are increasing (Toulouse, Nice, Albi, Briançon, Berlin, Vienna…) and there are direct trains to Barcelona, Milan…
car side, if you are traveling alone or even in pairs, carpooling (easy to organize with operators such as BlaBlaCar) makes it possible to divide the price and the ecological footprint of the trip. Convenient for transverse routes poorly served by rail. Once the car is full, all that remains is to drive at 110 kilometers per hour maximum on the highway, as suggested by Yann Arthus-Bertrand and Cyril Dion in a column published in The Sunday newspaper (October 29, 2022) to save 20% fuel and GHGs. Win-win!
Smoother mobility once on site
Arrived at destination, we forget the car? To the max! The ideal is to do everything on foot or by bike, even if it means renting one by reserving it well in advance, because the rental companies are taken by storm in the summer. Something to fight against inactivity and gain from it on the health side.
Planning a cycling holiday, but do you know these bike paths?
Velodyssey: from Brittany to the Basque Country (1300 km).
Veloscenia: from Paris to Mont-Saint-Michel (450 km).
Velomaritime: from Roscoff to Dunkirk (1500 km). To discover on www.francevelotourisme.com
And to organize your cycling holiday, consult the website of a specialist: www.bicyclette-verte.fr
Going light is good. Without buying anything (or almost), it’s better, at least nothing new, by locating camping equipment, beach, picnic, etc., on Leboncoin, Everide, Troc.com… Or, in local resource center near us or at the vacation spot.
A more virtuous toilet bag
Let’s add more solid and compact care, all-in-one products, small formats only if they are reusable. “And bring home the empty bottles if the system for collecting and recycling waste on site is not optimal”, recalls Victoria Morin.
A more coral-friendly sunscreen
At least 10% of coral reefs are dying due to global warming, pollution and several thousand tons of sunscreen products dumped into the oceans, which are also harmful to the biodiversity of rivers and lakes. We favor mineral filters, the Cosmébio, Ecocert, Nature & Progrès labels… and, even if they are not official, the mentions “Respect for marine life”, “Respectful of the oceans”, “Reef-friendly“…
More energy efficient activities
The challenge is to identify non-motorized activities, which therefore do not directly consume energy. We avoid amusement parks, jet-skis and motorboats in favor of swimming, sailing, surfing… Above all, no quads or motocross in the mountains, please! The land art, which uses the elements of nature, the walk avoiding the “highways” of hiking, it is invigorating and ecological. And the less we shop for a quickly forgotten souvenir or chain item of clothing, the better.
A longer digital disconnect
For adults and children alike, a digital break is always beneficial. Enough to recharge our social and family batteries by promoting exchanges through card games, board games… In addition, it’s good for the planet, because the carbon footprint of digital technology is heavy. On rainy days, if we fancy a good movie, we prefer downloaded versions or DVDs,
A more local plate
More time to choose products and cook: what a pleasure to avoid mass distribution! At the market, let’s find out about the most local production, foodstuffs that are not in tension like certain fish. And nothing prevents, before departure, to investigate local producers, farm sales, etc. As for restaurants, let’s avoid the chains in favor of the independents, especially when they display an environmental label.
More responsible picnics
To limit waste, try not to buy anything that is heavily packaged. A homemade salad and sandwich are always better! And to drink, we
To find your way around the labels and mentions
Environmental labeling of tourist accommodation: it measures their carbon footprint.
- ATR (Acting for responsible tourism): it awards a label to tour operators based on environmental and social criteria.
- Ecolodges, Gîtes Panda: they spot the greenest ones. European Ecolabel: it evaluates accommodation according to ecological indicators.
- Ecotable: it labels responsible restaurateurs (supply, ethics, etc.).
- green snowflake: it highlights the environmental commitment of mountain resorts. Green destinations: it distinguishes territories and tourist offices with a sustainable approach.
- The Green Key: it is given to eco-responsible accommodation and restaurants. Blue flag: it concerns municipalities and marinas that are defenders of their environment.
- Fair tourism: it promotes social and economic criteria, and favors local actors. More details on www.tourisme-durable.org