Post Covid-tourism, a more sustainable tourism?

It’s been said many times before but we’ll repeat it here: Covid-19 will change the world (and has, of course, already done so).

This change will be manifold and will stem from a multitude of motivations.

In this piece we will look at the change the pandemic has brought and will continue to bring to tourism.

Image by Sofia Cristina Córdova Valladares from Pixabay

You probably remember the golden pre-covid days.

In summer people flew to some sunny destination (Ibiza, The Dominican Republic, The Maldives, etc.), in winter they went skiing, and in between they went on extended weekend trips to various cities around the world, all depending on purchasing power, of course.

The pandemic has made all this come to a grinding halt with all the consequences to businesses directly or indirectly linked to tourism (hotels, restaurants, attractions, transport etc.).

All this will of course rebound but it will take time because the global economic consequences of the pandemic will be felt for a long time to come.

In the meantime, when travelling restrictions will have been lifted, flight connections restored, and hotel doors opened once again, people will still want to travel.

More local holiday destinations which used to be popular but have experienced a downturn in popularity over the last 50 years or so due to more glamorous place coming into reach for comparatively small money have already seen a marked upsurge in demand.

Places like the Harz mountain region in Germany have reported a marked increase of visitors in summer 2020 over previous years.[1]

Alpes de Haute Provence (France)

The same phenomenon has been observed in French mountain regions which have experiences a tourism boost during summer 2020.

This is due to:

  • a) the decreased purchasing power and
  • b) travelling restrictions.

In terms of sustainability, this trend offers a chance:

The environmental impact of a car trip from City X to nearby Rural Region Y is less than the environmental impact of jetting half-way around the globe.

In addition, many things have changed in more local touristic regions, the times of over-development are gone,

  • a) due to a change in taste (nobody wants to stay in massive hotel bunkers anymore) and
  • b) not least, due to regulatory changes.
Image by Dimitris Vetsikas

Until the vaccination campaigns will prove successful, things like social distancing will have to be taken into account and this is where ‘nature-holidays’ can play an important part.

Image by Alexandra Koch

Since a hiking trip with your family in, say, the Auvergne region in France is the very opposite to being guided through the Louvre in Paris in in a massive throng of people huddling together in order to catch a glimpse of La Gioconda.[2]

Auvergne Lanscape and La Joconde


Taking the aforementioned points one step further logically leads to camping.

Even in a crowded camping park social distancing is easily achievable.

Consequently, camping has seen a significant rise in popularity.[3], [4]

Image by bhossfeld

Individual vs. mass transport

When we say that the environmental impact of a car trip from City X to nearby Rural Region Y is less than the environmental impact of jetting half-way around the globe this necessitates a more detailed look.

In terms of fuel consumption per traveller, this statement only holds true for long-haul flights and very short car trips.

The shorter the flight and the longer the car trip environmental impact of both modes of transport will approach each other.

On the other hand, jet planes do have a direct impact on the ozone layer.[5],[6]

Future developments in air travel, such as hypersonic air-crafts, are already a hot topic in environmental research. [7]

Emissions from different mode of transport per passenger per km travelled [8]

Sustainable travel agencies

If you would like to take the environment into account when planing your next holiday, there are a number of travel agencies specialising in ‘sustainable travel’.

They can help you with responsible travel practices that pay attention to environmental, social, and economic sustainability or/and target your travel purposes towards threatened, natural environments, to support conservation efforts and observe wildlife.

Such as:

Our favorite:

  • Terre d’escales (Travel agency based in Paris, specialised in tailor-made trips). They not only have outstanding customer service, an eye for beauty that is above level, they will help tailor-make your trip to be what you exactly want within your budget and they have even responsible programs to donate to association.

That said…

Enjoy your next holidays!

Co-Fonder of Trianon Scientific Communication. Expert in Corporate Social Responsibility & Sustainable Development for SMEs —

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