Sustainable tourism in Germany: status quo and future developments

Tourism in Germany is of great economic importance while also making a particularly important contribution to rural areas. Although the tourism industry has recently been focusing more and more on sustainable tourism, it is not yet widely available and its share of overall tourism cannot be reliably demonstrated. Against the background of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the expansion of sustainable tourism services is also becoming increasingly important at the national level. In view of the high resource intensity of tourism, it is in the political interest to examine the relationship between sustainable tourism and the tourism industry as a whole, to strengthen existing sustainability efforts and to develop strategies to further increase the share of sustainable tourism.

The project will look at the actual share of sustainable tourism in the overall sector, the areas of the tourism industry where there is a need for action, and recommendations for action can be made for both the tourism industry and politics. To begin, a criteria-based definition for sustainable tourism is needed. The tourism industry itself needs clear and action-relevant indicators in order to strategically implement the transformation process to sustainable tourism. In this way, the industry can therefore benefit from the project results. It is therefore an important component of the project to cultivate cooperation with industry representatives and to promote networking and cooperation within the sector.

The project partners, led by the Centre for Sustainable Tourism at the Eberswalde University of Applied Sciences (ZENAT), are developing a concept and a method for collecting empirical information on the share of sustainable tourism in Germany. This will then be applied as an example. The basis for this is the linking of the Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) with the Environmental Economic Accounts (UGR).  Several workshops and conferences with experts from science, practice, and politics will discuss the results and identify the fields requiring action. In various discussion and strategy papers, recommendations for the further development of sustainable tourism as well as improved documentation of tourism statistics will be determined.

adelphi is leading the development of the indicators for determining sustainable tourism on the sector level as well as on the company level. The work is based on a comprehensive inventory and subsequent evaluation of existing accounting approaches as well as the identification of potential data sources.

By creating a uniform evaluation grid and evaluating the relevant data sources, it will be possible for the first time to examine the status quo of tourism in Germany in the three dimensions of sustainability (ecology, economy, and society). This creates the basis for continuous monitoring and the accompanying further strengthening of sustainable tourism.