Businesses in the tourism sector are taking steps to reduce the carbon footprint of the travel industry. Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash

According to research published in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change, pre-COVID-19 tourism accounted for more than eight percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions—rising at a rate of one percent annually, with the United States, China, and Germany topping the list of the worst offenders. COVID-19 isolation measures resulted in a 17 percent decrease in these emissions; however, the decline is expected to be temporary. Yet, over 87 percent of global travelers report that they want to travel more sustainably and reduce their impact on the environment—in fact, two-thirds say they’d pay more to ensure this is possible. Companies are stepping up to the challenge. A few examples among the hotels, ships, and airlines include:

• partnering with tech companies to produce jet fuel that will create 50 percent less carbon than fossil fuels and switching to biofuels

• getting rid of single use plastics, including straws and stirring sticks

• purchasing renewable offsets

• producing lighter planes and taking shorter flights with alternative fuels

• increasing recycling programs

• reusing linens and towels at hotels

• planting trees

• switching to LEDs

• donating used cooking oil on cruises to people in port cities

• upgrading water treatment systems on ships

• reducing weight and drag on ocean vessels and airliners to save fuel consumption

• reflecting heat from airports to lower energy costs

• installing low-flow bathroom fixtures

• utilizing wind turbines on site at hotels and airports

• providing reef-friendly sunscreen for free

• launching hybrid electric icebreaking ships

• producing new cruise vessels with steam heating and bio-degradable paints and lubricants

• committing to repurpose 100 percent of waste generated on cruise ships, including converting waste into energy

• installing exhaust gas cleaning systems to reduce sulfur oxides in ship exhaust

• powering cruise liners with liquified natural gas, a clean source of fuel

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