Europe's Voice of Tourism

Boom for Skal International Sustainability Awards 2023

A Global Snapshot of Preferred Categories and the Call for Greater European Involvement

The Skål International Sustainability Awards for 2023 celebrated the outstanding efforts of participants worldwide, showcasing their commitment to sustainable tourism practices and community development. While commendable initiatives were recognized, a closer examination of the data reveals an unbalanced distribution of preferred categories across different regions, particularly with limited representation from Europe. As the call for sustainable tourism grows louder, it is imperative to encourage greater European involvement in promoting responsible practices.

Preferred Categories by Country: The awards highlighted distinctive preferences among participating countries. Notably, Mexico took the lead with a strong emphasis on Community and Government Projects and Marine & Coastal initiatives. Their dedication to environmental conservation and community development was evident through projects like Amigos de Sian Ka´An and Qualti Innovaciones Marinas.

India’s focus on Countryside and Biodiversity initiatives, represented by projects like Periyar Tiger Reserve and Heritage Tours, demonstrated their commitment to preserving natural heritage and promoting sustainability in rural areas.

South Africa emerged as a frontrunner with a diverse approach to sustainability, excelling in multiple categories. Projects like Uthando (Love) South Africa and Save a Fishie showcased the country’s efforts in community development and marine conservation, respectively. Additionally, South Africa’s Buffelsdrift Game Lodge and The Cape Town Heritage Hotel and Spa were recognized for their sustainable urban accommodation practices.

Italy’s endeavours centred primarily on Major Tourist Attractions and Countryside and Biodiversity, exemplified by the European Association of the Via Francigena Ways (EAVF) and Brixen Tourism.

Imbalanced Distribution Across Regions: While the recognized initiatives were praiseworthy, the distribution of preferred categories was noticeably uneven across regions. Latin American countries, particularly Mexico, dominated the Community and Government Projects and Marine & Coastal categories, showcasing their commitment to sustainable tourism practices.

In contrast, other regions, such as Asia and Africa, displayed a more diverse array of initiatives across different categories, signifying a comprehensive approach to sustainability. India and South Africa, in particular, demonstrated well-rounded efforts in countryside conservation, urban accommodation, and marine conservation.

However, it is essential to address the limited representation of Europe in specific categories. Despite Europe’s wealth of cultural heritage and numerous tourist attractions, its participation in major tourist attractions and community projects was relatively modest.


NLA: North Latin America
SAFR: South Africa
SEAC: Europe
INDIA: India
ASIA: Asia
OCEA: Oceana
SLA: South Latin America
CAN: Canada

Promoting Balanced Representation: To bolster the global impact of the sustainable tourism movement, it is crucial to foster greater European involvement. Encouraging European countries to participate actively and contribute to various categories can be achieved through several recommendations:

  1. Awareness and Education: Promote awareness campaigns and educational initiatives that emphasize the benefits of sustainable tourism practices in Europe. Highlight the positive economic, environmental, and social impacts of adopting responsible approaches.
  2. Collaboration and Partnerships: Foster collaboration between Skål International and regional tourism associations in Europe. Jointly organize workshops, seminars, and conferences to exchange best practices and encourage sustainable tourism adoption.
  3. Recognition and Incentives: Offer incentives and recognition for exemplary sustainable tourism projects in Europe. Establish special awards that celebrate outstanding efforts and innovative initiatives, motivating more participation.
  4. Advocacy and Policy Support: Advocate for supportive policies and regulations that promote sustainable tourism in Europe. Engage with policymakers to create an enabling environment for the growth of responsible practices.
  5. Knowledge Sharing and Networking: Facilitate knowledge-sharing platforms and networking opportunities for European tourism professionals to learn from successful sustainability projects worldwide.

Conclusion: The Skål International Sustainability Awards 2023 celebrated remarkable sustainable tourism initiatives from around the world. While Mexico, India, South Africa, and Italy led the charge in their respective preferred categories, the representation of Europe was comparatively limited.

Encouraging greater European involvement in sustainable tourism is essential to achieve a truly global movement towards responsible practices. By implementing the recommended strategies, Europe can play a more active role in shaping the future of sustainable tourism, fostering a harmonious relationship between travellers, communities, and the environment. Together, the global tourism industry can work towards a more sustainable and responsible future for all.