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The Journey Away From A Use-and-Throw-Away Holiday

Part of the traditional DNA of tourism is the use-and-throw-away culture. Because, when we are on holiday, it is all about relaxing, having fun and consuming. At least, that is how it was. Meet Professor (with special responsibilities) Flemming Sørensen who is researching new ways to increase sustainable tourism.
“We need to take a closer look at the role and responsibility of the tourist and not just tourism as an industry,” says Flemming Sørensen.

Let’s start with a trip to Berlin. When you go on a weekend getaway to Berlin or some other destination, on paper it is more sustainable to stay in a flat you have rented through the sharing-economy service Airbnb than in a hotel. The total CO2 emission of a night in an Airbnb property is assumed to be smaller.

But that is a paradox, explains Professor (with special responsibilities) Flemming Sørensen who is researching circular economics in tourism.

»The paradox is that the options provided by Airbnb actually mean that people travel more and go on more, short weekend getaways. The people renting out properties are also more likely to travel. So, while on paper it is a more sustainable form of accommodation, the trend also causes problems, because in principle it leads to more air traffic and thus more pollution,« explains Flemming Sørensen.

It may well be that on a daily basis we are conscious of sorting waste and turning off the water when brushing our teeth. But when on holiday, we tend to adopt irresponsible practices and put our conscience on hold


Circular economy in brief

A circular economy is an economic system, in which, for the sake of the world’s resources, one seeks to recycle resources and completely abstain from producing waste. The circular economy is opposite to traditional economy, where you start by extracting some resources which then end up as waste. Circular economy in tourism can be about everything from more efficient sorting of waste and taking trains instead of planes to a destination to using a bike instead of a car, once you are there.

What has the most impact - smarter cruises or more bike tourists?
There are many paradoxes when you look at tourism through circular economic glasses For example, does making the cruise industry more sustainable or getting more people to go on slow nature holidays have the greatest impact?

»Going on holiday in nature has positive connotations, while a cruise has negative connotations. But precisely because cruise tourism accounts for a large part of the emissions, perhaps this is where we need to establish a positive circular economic tourism footprint,« says Flemming Sørensen.
If you get through to cruise tourism and its ships, which transport thousands of tourists each, it will maybe make a much greater impact than persuading a few more families to go on cycling holidays.

»Is it worth the effort to persuade a small number of families to go on a nature holiday, or is it more effective if we get some forms of mass tourism to act in a more environmentally sound way?« asks Flemming Sørensen.