Home » Consumer

Sustainability in Travel and Tourism (2020) – Thematic Research

Although the tourism sector may not be as unsustainable as oil & gas, it is under the same amount of scrutiny from environmental and consumer groups due to the importance and emotional connection the global population places on travel and tourism. A contributing cause for this intense scrutiny is the range of different industries within the sector that create a varied range of unsustainable impacts, that often overlap the borders of environmental, social and governance. The most notorious impacts include: rapidly increasing CO2 emissions from the use of aviation, damage to the ocean ecosystem from cruise ships, mass consumption of natural resources from hotels and economic leakage from package holidays. All of these impacts stem from different industries within the tourism sector such as airline, travel intermediation, cruise and hotel.

This thematic research report takes an in-depth look at the theme of sustainability in tourism, the leaders and challengers involved and the impacts the theme poses in the industry, utilizing the ESG (environmental, social, governance) framework. Specific case studies are then outlined, assessing how individual companies are leading or lagging in terms of incorporating sustainability in to operations. Lastly, a company’s section is then set, outlining ESG ratings for specific companies in the tourism industry, using ESG agencies such as CSR hub to form a general overview.

“Adapting operations and creating initiatives to address environmental, social and governance issues allows companies to stay ahead of the competition.” – Ralph Hollister – Travel & Tourism Analyst, GlobalData


This report provides an overview of the impact of sustainability on tourism and clearly defines how it is impacting the industry.

It identifies the main trends related to sustainability in tourism, outlined through the ESG framework.

This report provides detailed industry and thematic analysis on sustainability in tourism.

We highlight companies leading and lagging in sustainability, such as Aena, Carnival and Ryanair.

Key Highlights

Creating sustainable operations and initiatives is now imperative for tourism organizations to remain financially viable. According to GlobalData’s Q3 2019 Consumer Survey, 89% of global consumers are now interested in products that are environmentally friendly, with 46% actively buying such products over ones which do not illustrate aspects of sustainability. When looking at millennials specifically, active buyers grow to 49%, the highest percentage of all generational segments.

A 2019 research paper entitled Women in aviation: A study of insecurity found that gender pay gap is still an issue faced by the airline industry today. In 2018, Ryanair had the largest gender pay gap in the airline industry with women earning 72% less than men. However, Ryanair did respond with a valid point. Gender pay in the company is materially affected by the relatively low numbers of female pilots in the aviation industry. Pilots tend to occupy the highest paid positions in the company, whilst the female dominated cabin crews tend to occupy lower paid positions.

Some of the most highly publicized data breaches have occurred in the travel and tourism sector, considering the amount of sensitive data that these companies keep, including personally identifiable information (PII) and payment card information (PCI), it makes them an ideal target for cyber criminals. The 2018 Marriott breach that compromised the records of up to 383 million customers is one of the most notorious examples. The data breach occurred through a third party IT company that managed the Starwood reservation database. It was clear during the investigation that Marriott took too long to disclose the breach. Even though the breach was found in September 2018, disclosure did not occur until nearly three months later, meaning the company failed to protect valuable customer information and lacked transparency.

Reasons to Buy

Understand the impact of sustainability on the tourism industry, using the widely adopted ESG framework and examples to help you understand how you can adapt and understand this theme.

Assess the strategies that companies are adopting when operating sustainably.

Discover companies that are leading and lagging in this space.

GlobalData’s thematic research ecosystem is a single, integrated global research platform that provides an easy-to-use framework for tracking all themes across all companies in all sectors. It has a proven track record of identifying the important themes early, enabling companies to make the right investments ahead of the competition, and secure that all-important competitive advantage.

Key Players

Accor, American Airlines, Responsible Travel, STA Travel, Hilton, Airbnb, Melia Hotels

Table of Contents

Table of contents

GlobalData’s sustainability framework




The impact of sustainability on travel and tourism




Sustainability measurement and response

ESG advisors

ESG rating agencies


Case studies






Further reading


Discounts available for multiple purchases.

+44 20 7947 2960

Join our mailing list

Saved reports