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Sustainable Tourism

Unspoilt nature and landscapes are attractive offers for tourism and recreation that people are availing of more and more in Germany. At the same time, tourism can contribute to nature conservation through more conscientious travel and leisure patterns. Nature areas and resources need to be used more sustainably irrespective of whether for sports or tourism purposes.

Sustainable tourism in harmony with nature and landscapes geared towards sustainable management and consequently also towards resource efficiency and climate action, offers excellent conditions for contributing to long-term regional added value.

With approximately one third of the population holidaying in their own country, Germany is by far the most visited country by the Germans. A total of 2.9 million people in the German workforce are employed in the tourism sector and generate 4.4. percent of the gross value added of the German economy, in other words 97 billion euros. As a result, the tourism sector has grown to a size comparable with the automotive and engineering sectors and is now one of Germany's booming economic sectors with a high turnover.

Information on the economic effects of tourism is very important for communicating the importance of protected areas and can contribute significantly to acceptance i. e. increasing acceptance among the local population and at political level.

At the same time, sustainable tourism caters to the rising quality standards expected by customers and helps companies maintain their competitive positions. Sustainability, comfort, pleasure and health are important elements of sustainable tourism products and trademarks of a modern, successful tourism sector.

Tips for sustainable travel

Whether through the choice of travel destination and means of transport or through behaviour in nature at the destination, people have numerous options for protecting nature. Travelling by plane in particular, leads to the release of tonnes of climate-damaging greenhouse gases. Travellers can now offset the CO2 emissions produced by one flight elsewhere, for instance, through Atmosfair, a non-profit organisation. An emissions calculator tells travellers the amount of climate-damaging gases produced for each flight and passengers can then pay a donation to Atmosfair that will go towards certified climate action projects. For example, the level of CO2 emissions produced on a round trip from Berlin to Mallorca can be compensated for by donating 22 euros to a climate action project.

Zero Impact Camps is a website designed especially for young people. The website provides information on ways to travel sustainably and the consumption of all natural resources, the so-called "ecological rucksack" which encompasses the choice of destination, accommodation and activities.

NaturSportInfo is an information system run by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN). The website provides those looking for a sporty holiday with information on the environmental impacts of various recreational and sports activities.

Leisure and recreation in national natural landscapes

Home to around 130 national natural landscapes - national parks, biosphere reserves and nature parks that make up a third of the country's surface area, Germany offers excellent conditions for experiencing nature with high recreational and leisure value. The 14 German national parks alone receive 50 million visitors a year. 

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Developing criteria for the sustainable structuring of tourism destinations in Germany