The top 20 countries for sustainable tourism

The top 20 nations are all in Europe

Cathy Adams
Monday 15 March 2021 13:27 GMT
Sweden’s second city Gothenburg
Sweden’s second city Gothenburg (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Sweden has been ranked as the most sustainable country for travel in a new index.

Following the Scandinavian nation in Euromonitor’s Top Countries for Sustainable Travel are Finland (second) and Austria (third).

Rounding out the top five is Estonia and Norway.

The top 20 nations in Euromonitor’s Top Countries for Sustainable Travel are all in Europe, including Slovakia, France, Iceland and Latvia.

The index, which ranked 99 countries around the world, analysed seven aspects of sustainable tourism, including the calibre of a nation’s eco transport and accommodation, as well as social and environmental sustainability.

Sweden is the birthplace of the flygskam movement and climate activist Greta Thunberg. It took the top spot thanks to its focus on generating tourism that has helped the environment and society as well as the economy, as well as its engagement with its UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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Euromonitor notes: “The government established the framework critical to Sweden’s success to achieve the 17 SDGs, especially regarding climate action, conserving biodiversity in the Arctic and moving to a carbon-free circular economy.

“Focused on devising a sustainable tourism strategy, Sweden is working to promote rural and regional tourism in core cities. The country also benefits from efficient transport infrastructure and alternative forms of travel besides air to help appease flight-shaming.

“For sustainable lodging, Sweden serves as a role model with its award-winning Nordic eco-chic architecture and design.”

Outside of Europe, Bolivia (22), New Zealand (23) and Canada (24) ranked highly in the index. The UK came further down, ranking at 44.

At the bottom end, Pakistan, India and Mauritius were ranked the least sustainable travel hotspots.

Sustainable travel has raced to the top of the tourism agenda in recent years. However, only 55 per cent of travel businesses implemented some form of sustainability strategy, according to Euromonitor.

The research firm predicts there will be “growing awareness among consumers, businesses and governments” to prioritise the planet alongside people and profit when global tourism begins again following travel restrictions across the world.

The pandemic and subsequent travel restrictions have decimated global tourism. According to the International Civil Aviation Organisation, air passengers slumped by 60 per cent in 2020, pushing air travel to levels not seen since 2003.

The top 20 countries for sustainable tourism

  1. Sweden
  2. Finland
  3. Austria
  4. Estonia
  5. Norway
  6. Slovakia
  7. Iceland
  8. Latvia
  9. France
  10. Slovenia
  11. Switzerland
  12. Lithuania
  13. Croatia
  14. Czech Republic
  15. Ireland
  16. Germany
  17. Belgium
  18. Denmark
  19. Netherlands
  20. Portugal

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