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Let's go green

#Let's go green

Discover the advice from Welcome City Lab and the start-ups from Paris&Co on how to travel “green”!


“It is essential that we contribute to a general awareness raising and change everybody’s behaviour, as the future of tourism will or will not be sustainable,” Lauriane Gouhier, responsible for partnerships and communication for ATES (French Fair and Responsible Tourism Association).


Sustainable tourism – Kesako?

According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), for  a few years now, tourism must protect cultures and the environment. 2017—the International Year of Sustainable Tourism—gave all of the ecosystem a chance to better grasp this rapidly rising trend in tourism. The definition of this notion was largely inspired by the Norwegian Prime Minister Mrs. Gro Harlem Brundtland, who described sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.  Green tourism, eco-tourism, etc. all these facets that result from sustainable tourism are seeing unprecedented development, especially with Millennials, who care about working for the planet and its populations.

Travellers want to travel with a clear conscience,” Responsible tourism and the market in 2019 by the World Travel Market (WTM)

Welcome City Lab’s favourite site

Slow Tourisme Lab, an incubator dedicated to slow tourism and sustainable tourism, and its “Connect” platform, to create the partnerships of tomorrow.


Today a great number of retail customers feel concerned and want to act. This is also the case for professionals from the tourist industry who realise the impact this trend is having on the market! In a survey, carried out by last August, we can see that 86% of travellers (out of the 21,500 people surveyed) feel inclined to take responsibility for their environmental impact. This means choosing tourist activities that can compensate for the negative effects of tourism, such as clearing beaches of plastic and waste for 37% of them. The tourism sector must therefore adapt!

Would you like to contribute to this dynamic and take another step for our environment? You want to start to make a difference? Several experts from the tourist sector and sustainable development have given us their points of view and recommendations to enlighten you and help you to “go green” when you travel.


Sustainable tourism, a long journey...

Accommodation, transport, activities; tourism has an impact!

Did you know?

It is during take-off and landing that a plane consumes and pollutes the most! “We have almost the same impact on a one-hour flight as on a flight that lasts for seven hours.

Marion Martinez, founder of


The tourist offering is now essentially accessible through online booking. This trend has given rise to many intermediaries that dominate the sector at a global level, mostly for accommodation. When we want to travel (for business or leisure) and book a place to stay, our first reflex is still Google and its AdWords, opinion platforms such as, Expedia, TripAdvisor and, more recently, Airbnb for reservations between individuals. Small hosts, who are generally local, who do not have access to these intermediaries are therefore left out. There has to be a way to counter this and give tourism more authenticity.

The same issue applies to transportation. Limiting the negative impact of our journeys has become a priority with the take-off of over-tourism. Although planes are inevitable in some situations, people have a role to play particularly for “short journeys” when they are travelling.

The same logic applies for tourist activities. No daily gesture is left aside when it comes to sustainable innovation and green tech. These technologies have a use that is intended to attenuate or reverse the effects of human activity on the environment.

Being devoted to sustainable tourism can therefore be a fastidious task and the adepts will tell you that it is not easy to know how and where to start. Innumerable labels, a choice of sustainable and ecological offers; the list is long and organisation becomes complicated!

How can retail customers contribute to this “green tourism” dynamic? Or at least reduce their economic, environmental and social impact when they travel? Which players (accommodation, transport, or activities) and labels should they favour?


Here is the key!

Accommodation and transport; turnkey solutions!

If you feel concerned by this review, that is already a first step. It is primordial to realise that sustainable tourism represents the offering of the future.

In terms of accommodation, an alternative to passing through online intermediaries exists. The aim is to enhance the visibility of the small operators but also offerings of accommodation that are more ecological that clients can enjoy. Fair Booking is a search and selection tool that makes it possible to put hosts and customers in touch to establish direct human contact. The offers are mostly classified as “eco-responsible” and can help you not to use the online giants as the sole solution for booking accommodation.

The hotel industry is seeing rapid change with solutions such as Book on Google, Booking Basics or even the BTU Protocol that uses blockchain to dethrone the big intermediaries. This player has created the first booking protocol that offers customers a clear advantage (the best price and a reward in BTU tokens) as well as fairer remuneration for suppliers using their technology. On this premise, “a return to the source will be increasingly the trend, and human contact has certainly not breathed its last” according to Jolanda van den Bergh, Head of Development at Fair Booking. The experiment has been in place for a while and puts tourists at the heart of the process.

Marion’s favourite site:

L’Atelier Bucolique, a platform with tips for responsible travel. One more to visit, without moderation.


“Everything can be shared: a garden, a swimming pool, a terrace; and there are plenty more surprises in store!” 

Many start-ups, who have a philosophy of sustainable development and the sharing economy, offer initiatives in terms of rentals. The Airbnb format is multiplying and we can now rent outside spaces between individuals. This is the gamble taken by the start-up LOUER DEHORS incubated by Immobilier de demain (Paris&Co’s sustainable city) to take advantage of our outside environment, without damaging public and protected green spaces, which are victims of mass tourism. Everything can be shared: a garden, a swimming pool, a terrace; and there are plenty more surprises in store!

The issues related to transport are also very real: energy consumption, pollution, technical problems, over-crowding; the list is long and increases when we go on holiday! Taking into account: luggage, the budget (which can be limited), children, safety, etc. There are once again some wonderful plans—prioritising the sustainable transportation of the future—that may also transform your business and leisure travel.

The transport solutions provided by start-ups at the Rolling Lab (Sustainable city) incubator and Welcome City Lab from Paris&Co:

- Drive economically and ecologically for the holidays with WE NOW

- Opt for co-training with ALLONS BON TRAIN

- Rent an adapted car to go on holiday with WHEELIZ

- Rent an electric motorbike in Uganda with ZEMBO

- Get around on a cargo bike on a road trip with K-RYOLE

- Travel on a solar power bike with ROOL-IN 


Zoom on: The players and labels to favour

Is everything booked? Here is the next step!

Marion Martinez, who is also responsible for development at the Label LUCIE—the benchmark CSR label—has enlightened us about how people can contribute to sustainable tourism. She says, “everybody can do something to fight against the problems related to global warming, social injustice and environment issues... Even when you’re on holiday!”.

Once the accommodation and the transport are booked, we now need to think about the tourist activities available and all the free-time to fill. Obviously, nature tourism and observation are by far the most environmentally friendly and “green” activities. A simple walk around a lake, in the mountains or on a beach can allow you to enjoy your holidays whilst having “0” impact on your environment. For other activities (cultural, entertainment and sport), the reflex must be to check service providers according to the “environmentally friendly”, “sustainable” and “green” criteria set by labels. 

There are now more than thirty labels related to sustainable tourism. To avoid information overload, here is the Welcome City Lab selection of 3 labels you can trust. They also cover all of the practices of sustainable tourism.

“Sustainable tourism is a new way of conceiving of tourism and its aims.” 

The responsible tourism label created by the ATR, the first French association for players in sustainable travel. It has the advantage of being generalist and separated over 16 criteria with the priority angles of: transparency for customers, the partner service and team consistency.

The fair and sustainable label developed by ATES (French Fair and Responsible Tourism Association), who worked on this article with us. Through the latter, the network improves the information available to travellers and the transparency required for sustainable tourism. ATES aims to become the French and international spokesperson for this new trend with institutions and the public through a reference website covering more than 59 countries.

The tourist sector has many critics, particularly for mass tourism and the negative impact we know it can have. Through its actions and the offers of its members, ATES helps to show that another kind of tourism is possible. “Sustainable tourism is a new way of conceiving of tourism and its aims. It therefore can, and must, be a lever for amplifying the positive impacts in the host countries.” Caroline Mignon (Director of ATES).

The “La clef verte” (green key) CSR label, created by Teragir, is specialised in responsible catering. This international quality standard allows the whole tourist ecosystem (hotels and catering) to be assisted with environment management, their CSR and their aims in terms of food.

These labels, which have the role of listing and ranking tourism operators with best practices, will give you an objective and selective list of the offers to favour the next time you travel. For a full list, we recommend you visit the website of the association ATD (Acteurs du Tourisme Durable—Participants in Sustainable Tourism).


The final word

The International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development (2017) gave rise to a roadmap for 2030 with the main aim of extending the commitments across all of the tourist sector. According to the UNWTO, it is now crucial to ensure the sustainability of sustainable tourism and that it must be economically viable, culturally accepted and universally practised.

The world is amazing and covered with landscapes that are each more breath-taking than the next. Which is why they must be protected. Being on holiday means enjoying yourself and unwinding. But, that is no reason to have a negative impact on the planet by abandoning good habits.” (Marion Martinez).


To find out more about sustainable tourism and the challenges of this sector, Welcome City Lab invites you to get a copy of its Trend Book #2 and its special “Fairtrade” file that you download here.


Good reading!

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