Europe's Voice of Tourism
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To Fly or Not to Fly: The Dilemma of Sustainable Travel

In the heart of the tourism industry lies a paradox:

while our travels connect us with the world and its diverse cultures, they also contribute to the environmental challenges we face today. For us at Skål, the world’s largest organization for tourism professionals, this dilemma is particularly pronounced. Many of us spend a significant part of our working lives in the air, making us key actors in the quest for a more sustainable travel industry.

As members of Skål, we have a unique opportunity and responsibility to lead the way towards sustainability in our respective areas. Our decisions not only affect our own operations but have the potential to inspire change across the industry. From hotel chains to airlines and cruise companies, we have the mandate to make sustainable choices that can contribute to a larger, positive change.

A story from our experience at my company Gameng highlights this point. Despite air travel being an inevitable part of our work, we continuously strive to make conscious choices that minimize our impact on the environment. We choose direct flights to reduce emissions, support airlines that invest in more fuel-efficient aircraft or offer carbon offset programs and compensate for our carbon emissions by contributing to environmental projects. These small steps, collectively, make a noticeable difference.

Making sustainable choices doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice our passion for travel or limit our ability to explore the world. Instead, it’s about adjusting how we travel to ensure our adventures continue responsibly. This means choosing economy class where emissions are shared among more passengers, preferring public transportation over private transfers to and from airports, and always seeking ways to reduce our environmental impact.

For Skål members, this is not just a professional challenge but a personal journey towards becoming more aware and responsible global citizens. Our role in the tourism industry gives us a unique platform to influence and inspire others, both within and outside our industry, to make sustainable choices. By leading by example and spreading the message of sustainability, we can collectively create a more sustainable future for the travel industry.

Embracing sustainability in the tourism industry is not just a business necessity but a moral obligation. We at Skål have the opportunity to be pioneers in this movement, to show that every choice counts, and that we all have a role to play in preserving the beauty and diversity of our planet for future generations. Let us together take these steps towards a more sustainable travel future.

Here are some simple tips everyone can follow to make flying a bit greener:

  • GO DIRECT: Taking a flight that goes straight to your destination is better because planes use a lot of fuel when they take off and land. So, fewer stops mean less fuel use.
  • CHOOSE GREENER AIRLINES: Some airlines are working hard to use less fuel and take better care of our planet. Look for these airlines when you book your flights.
  • OFFSET YOUR FLIGHT: Some airlines let you pay a little extra to make up for the pollution from your flight. This money goes to projects that help the environment, like planting trees.
  • PACK LIGHT: The less a plane carries, the less fuel it uses. Think about what you really need to bring along.
  • ORDER MEALS AHEAD: This helps cut down on waste because the airline knows exactly what to bring on board.
  • CHECK-IN ONLINE: Using your phone or computer to check in means you use less paper.
  • BE ON TIME: Being late can cause delays, and delays can lead to planes using more fuel to catch up.
  • PICK ECONOMY CLASS: More people in the same space means less pollution per person. It’s better for the planet to sit tight than flying in first-, or business class.
  • USE PUBLIC TRANSPORT: Getting to and from the airport by bus or train is better than driving or taking a taxi.


Making these choices doesn’t just help the planet. It also shows others in the travel world that we can all make a difference. Every little bit helps, and together, we can make travel better for everyone and our planet. Sustainability is of course not only environmental, the social and economic balance is also important but that’s another story.

Author: Daniela Hedström