Best Tourism Practices from Europe’s Top 10 Sustainable Destinations [Rated by Guests]
Sustainable travel has become increasingly important in Europe, known for its rich cultural heritage and breathtaking landscapes, and at the forefront of promoting sustainable tourism. Travelers are now more conscious of their journeys' impact on the environment and local communities. When visiting a destination, besides the exploration factor, travelers are paying increasingly more attention to the infrastructure and measures that tourism providers implement to foster sustainable development.
"For each destination, monitoring traveler’s sentiment on sustainability is paramount. Recent observations at TrustYou reveal that high sustainability scores of cities, countries or whole regions, can significantly enhance overall guest satisfaction. Notably, there is a growing trend of visitors discussing sustainability-related matters, demonstrating increased engagement with conscious travel. We firmly believe that this trend is here to stay, and our commitment extends to assisting any travel destination seeking data-driven insights to assess its current status and develop future strategies."
Sirma Ivanova, Business Development Manager & Key Account Manager Data Partnerships, TrustYou
In this article, we will explore the top 10 European sustainable destinations rated by hotel guests. These destinations have made remarkable strides in implementing sustainable practices, making them ideal choices for eco-conscious travelers. They also serve as an excellent example for other destinations and tourism providers looking to enhance their sustainability practices.
From innovative green initiatives to eco-friendly accommodations and immersive experiences, these places offer a unique blend of sustainable tourism and unforgettable experiences. Join us as we delve into the eco-friendly charms of these top sustainable destinations in Europe.
Top 10 Sustainable Destinations in Europe Rated by Guests
At TrustYou, we take pride in providing valuable insights to destinations and hotels based on guest reviews to help them attract more visitors and increase satisfaction.
To unveil the most appreciated destinations by guests in terms of sustainability, we analyzed more than 152.5 million guest reviews from August 2021 to July 2023 for 43 European countries.
*Inclusion criteria: For this list, we looked at countries with at least 200 sustainability mentions between August 2021-July 2023 and the highest number of sustainability mentions per hotel.
Although they didn’t make it to the top 10 due to a lower number of sustainability mentions per hotel, these countries have registered an impressive sentiment score for sustainability:
#1 Albania - Score: 96.7/100
#2 Austria - Score: 93.1/100
#3 Italy - Score: 93/100
Sustainable Tourism Practices from Europe’s Top 10
#1 Responsible Tourism Practices
Through various initiatives, Iceland's tourism sector is heavily involved in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and supporting the country’s objective to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040. Tourists are encouraged to take actions that minimize their carbon footprint, such as supporting local carbon-capturing projects, using public transportation, or traveling off-season.
#2 National Strategies
Slovenia is a great example of how a destination management organization (DMO) can actively support and engage tourism providers in eco-friendly initiatives. In 2015, the country adopted the Green Scheme of Slovenian Tourism, a framework that helps unite all the green efforts under a single umbrella. Providing standards, best practices, and a certification program encourages tourism providers to participate in sustainable tourism development.
#3 Sustainable Infrastructure
Denmark has pioneered sustainable tourism initiatives, particularly cycling. According to VisitDenmark, Copenhagen's cycling infrastructure is a model for the world, providing numerous cycle paths, public rental bikes, and bike-friendly accommodations. The Danish Ministry of Transportation has launched the "Year of the Bike" campaign to promote cycling tourism in Denmark, in conjunction with the country hosting the start of the 2022 Tour de France.
#4 Sustainable F&B Sector
Origin Green Ireland is a program dedicated to sustainability for the food & beverage industry and claims to be the only national program in the world focusing on this sector. Launched in 2012, it aims to make Ireland a global leader in sustainable food and drink production. The initiative brings together the entire Irish food and drink industry, including farmers, producers, and retailers, under a common goal of achieving sustainable and responsible practices. Origin Green provides a framework and support for companies to set and achieve measurable sustainability targets across areas such as greenhouse gas emissions, water usage, waste management, and biodiversity.
What the Guests Are Saying about Sustainability? Key Insights for Hotels
What do guests particularly appreciate when mentioning sustainability in their reviews? We looked at some feedback to give you an idea of things guests pay attention to.
By providing these choices, hotels prove their commitment to sustainable practices, and extra care for the well-being of their guests and the community they live in.
#1 Food & Beverages: Local, Vegan, or Organic Highly Appreciated
Guests appreciate the opportunity to savor the flavors and culinary traditions of the region they are visiting. For them, it’s a way of immersing in the local community. Organic food options are highly valued as they are free from harmful pesticides and chemicals, contributing to guests' overall health and well-being. Additionally, vegan options show a commitment to sustainable and ethical dining choices, catering to guests' dietary preferences and promoting animal welfare.
#2 Toiletries & Kitchen Utensils: Organic and Reusable Options
Choose organic toiletries made using natural ingredients, gentle on the skin, and free from harmful chemicals. Reusable options, such as refillable dispensers and eco-conscious kitchen utensils, reduce plastic waste and contribute to a more environmentally friendly experience. Guests appreciate the effort to minimize single-use plastics and the opportunity to impact the environment during their stay.
#3 Parking: Availability of Free Electric Charging Stations
The popularity of electric vehicles continues to rise: the latest data for April 2023 shows a 25% increase in plugin vehicles compared to 2022. The availability of electric charging stations eliminates the need for guests to search for public charging stations or worry about the range of their electric vehicles. Secondly, providing free electric charging stations demonstrates the hotel's commitment to sustainability and reducing carbon emissions. Guests who prioritize eco-friendly travel appreciate the opportunity to support green initiatives and reduce their environmental impact while staying at the hotel.
#4 Shared & Private Spaces: Green, Immersive Designs
Green designs prioritize eco-friendly materials and sustainable practices, creating a welcoming and environmentally conscious atmosphere. Guests appreciate using renewable resources, such as reclaimed wood or energy-efficient lighting, as it aligns with their commitment to sustainability. Additionally, green designs often incorporate natural elements such as indoor plants, green walls, and open-air spaces, enhancing the aesthetic appeal, improving air quality, and contributing to a calmer and more enjoyable environment. These designs allow guests to immerse themselves in the destination's atmosphere, and fostering a deeper connection with the local community.
How Guest Reviews Can Help Your Destination & Hotel Measure the Sustainability Impact
Get insights into how sustainability impacts your visitors’ experience by looking at guest reviews. Using our analytics, you can monitor what your guests say about the eco-friendly and green initiatives you are implementing. The separate sentiment category that detects mentions of sustainability is available in multiple languages. You can have an overview of your waste reduction, energy efficiency, water conservation, and sustainable sourcing efforts. Additionally, hotels can monitor the Eco-Friendly hotel category to understand the impact of their environmental initiatives on the guest experience.
Curious how guest reviews can help your destination or hotel attract more visitors and enhance guest satisfaction? Get in touch with our experts to learn more!