For many years tourism was seen to be an environmentally friendly economic development option. Tourists consume experiences, not material goods, was the thought. They can travel lightly and responsibly, leave only footprints, support local cultures, inject valuable money into rural areas, and even (holy grail of holy grails) contribute to world peace through economic development and increased understanding between people of different cultures. When the calculations are done however, tourism’s impact is high, and rising.

An article in The Independent (07/05/2018) summarises the most recent (and thorough) study calculating the carbon emissions associated with tourism. The authors of the study have a piece in The Conversation discussing their research.


It’s basic findings are:

• Tourism contributes 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions
• Transport, shopping and food are the main contributors


To give some idea of the transport numbers, in 2013, international travel was responsible for 23% of the global carbon footprint of tourism (so domestic flights, and all other forms of transport are not included). A study by Mountain Riders calculated that 75% of CO2 emitted during a winter ski holiday in France is simply the transport (generally car or plane). Which means that the other 25% includes the ski lifts, heating the chalet, cooking the food etc. So if you want to tackle one key thing: transport would appear to be it.

But travel, but its very definition, involves transport. Is it possible for it to be otherwise? We can virtually travel (games, computers) but as we all know, there is simply nothing like actually moving and seeing with your own eyes, smelling, touching, breathing in another place. The more money we have, the more we travel, and our demand appears to be insatiable – we keep travelling more as we become richer (regardless of how green we think we are) and it doesn’t appear to taper off. What to do?


The authors conclude that flying less (and less distance) is the number one rule. And offsetting is the number two.

In the same way we have now come to understand the carbon emissions associated with using the internet are much larger than originally imagined, even though we again think we are only consuming an experience, travelling is an experience that is high in tonnes of CO2 emitted. While there are no magic pills, offsetting schemes provide the only way to minimise these impacts. This NY Times article here discusses travel and carbon offsetting.

Since January 2019 all our holidays have included an offset amount on the invoice. We donate this money to The Converging World who invest in reforestation and renewable energy schemes in the UK and India.


Some alternative options you might like to investigate independently are: Ekos (NZ)Greening AustraliaThe Good Traveller (USA).

This article from the Guardian gives some additional background to carbon offsetting. As does this article from Choice Australia.

We use The Converging World’s carbon calculator below to calculate the amount to add to your invoice. We convert it to Euros and round it up. At the end of each season we will make one donation of the total amount we have collected. Try it out for yourself!


The French Mountain Riders Association (of which we are a member), like the American Association Protect Our Winters (and its UK offshoot), work to raise awareness of climate change in the skiing and outdoor sports communities. Join up, support their projects, jump into action if you can… It’s all good. The following piste map from POW helps to think about how we can change our own actions and then go on to influence others…