How the travel industry can contribute to achieving the sustainable development goals

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) established by the United Nations, with a timeline extending from 2015 to 2030, face considerable challenges as we approach the midpoint of this critical period this year. The Global Sustainable Development Report 2023 offers a sobering assessment, indicating that humanity’s progress toward the SDGs has fallen short. The report warns of the potential for prolonged periods of crisis and uncertainty, exacerbated by factors such as poverty, inequality, disease, conflict, and environmental disasters.

Amidst these concerns, there remains a glimmer of hope for the potential for meaningful change through collaborative efforts. A powerful contender in this global endeavor is the tourism sector, poised to contribute significantly to the SDGs. This article delves into the compelling reasons behind this potential and outlines the strategies by which sustainable tourism can actively contribute to achieving the 2030 SDGs. 

At its core, sustainable tourism offers a multifaceted approach to addressing a range of SDGs, including promoting inclusive growth, safeguarding the environment, and fostering the development of peaceful and resilient societies. This sector’s capacity for positive impact is emphasized by its explicit mention in several targets:

Target 8.9: Promote beneficial and sustainable tourism

Creating and putting into effect policies aimed at fostering sustainable tourism that generates employment and champions local culture and goods is the content of this target. The extensive array of services and undertakings within the tourism sector holds the capability to generate significant job prospects, all the while safeguarding and advancing the distinctive cultural legacy of various locations.

Target 12.b: Monitor sustainable development impacts for sustainable tourism

An equally significant goal, target 12.b aims to “develop and implement tools to monitor sustainable development impacts for sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes culture and products.” The emphasis here is on establishing effective mechanisms to assess the impact of tourism activities on various aspects of sustainable development.

Tambuka Dancer

Target 14.7: Sustainable use of marine resources for the benefits to least developed regions

The objective is to enhance the economic advantages for Small Island Developing States and the least developed countries by the year 2030. Sustainable tourism, recognized for its capacity to strengthen local economies and elevate underserved areas, emerges as a vital catalyst in the pursuit of this goal.

The Ripple Effects

In addition to these particular goals, sustainable tourism holds a wider impact on the SDGs. To fully grasp the complete potential of travel and its favorable outcomes, it’s necessary to extend our focus beyond the SDGs that directly reference tourism.

Gender Equality (Goal 5)

By strengthening local communities, sustainable tourism can create avenues for women’s participation in economic activities, promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment

Climate Action (Goal 13)

Through the adoption of eco-friendly practices and the promotion of low-impact travel experiences, sustainable tourism contributes to mitigating climate change, aligning with the objectives of Goal 13. 


Strategies for Achieving the 2030 SDGs through Sustainable Tourism

Despite its inherent potential, tourism is not a miraculous force that, merely through its presence, guarantees the attainment of these sustainable objectives. Instead, its realization necessitates meticulous execution, embracing numerous sustainable facets. This demands an equitable perspective rooted in social inclusivity and a solid foundation of inclusiveness. In the following we list several conditions which need to be met in order to get closer to the Goals: 

Governments and stakeholders must collaboratively devise comprehensive policies that prioritize sustainable tourism. These policies should encompass economic, environmental, and social considerations. They are essential to prevent over-tourism, protect natural resources, and ensure compliance with sustainability standards. 

Developing and maintaining sustainable infrastructure, such as energy-efficient accommodations and responsible waste management systems, is essential for minimizing the sector’s ecological footprint. 

Leveraging technology for sustainable tourism management can streamline operations, enhance visitor experiences, and contribute to conservation efforts. 

Establishing robust mechanisms for tracking and monitoring the impact of tourism activities on SDGs is crucial for making informed decisions and refining strategies. 


Sustainable tourism minimizes resource consumption. This involves adopting eco-friendly practices, reducing plastic usage, conserving water, and promoting energy-efficient facilities. 

The benefits of tourism should be distributed fairly and equitably among local communities. This can be achieved by involving local residents in decision-making processes, providing training and employment opportunities, and supporting local businesses.

Local communities should be actively engaged in tourism planning and management. Their perspectives should inform policies and practices to ensure that tourism aligns with their needs and aspirations. 

 Both tourists and tourism operators should be educated about responsible travel practices, cultural sensitivity and the importance of sustainable development. Awareness campaigns can help shape behaviors and attitudes. 

Sustainable tourism requires collaboration between governments, businesses, NGOs, and local communities. Partnerships can drive innovation, resource-sharing, and the development of best practices. 

 Sustainable tourism considers the long-term impacts rather than short-term gains. This involves planning for the conservation of resources, minimizing negative impacts, and fostering resilience.

In conclusion, tourism holds significant potential to contribute positively to sustainable development. However, achieving this potential requires a concerted effort to ensure responsible and ethical practices that respect local culture, minimize environmental impact, and prioritize equitable distribution of benefits. By adhering to these conditions, tourism can play a pivotal role in fostering economic growth, cultural preservation, and environmental stewardship in host communities around the world.

We as ChargeHolidays work every day to achieve the SDGs. By transparently showing the ecological and social behavior of accommodations, we enable every traveler to make the choice that contributes to a better and more just future.

Creating jobs that allow the employees to retain their dignity and care about themselves and their families is also something that we live within our start-up as well as coach accommodations to do better. But – also you can take your share in working towards the SDGs: when traveling, there is a lot you can respect, from being attentive and reporting human rights violations, choosing the local tour organizer that respects animal rights, and minimizing your water, energy and waste consumption.

Find more hints on our info-page for travelers and look forward to your next journey: charging your soul and accelerating global achievements towards reaching the SDGs.