North American Travel & Tourism Sector’s Climate Footprint Revealed

World Travel & Tourism Council and Saudi-based Sustainable Tourism Global Center release groundbreaking research

North American sector’s GDP has grown on average 3.1% annually whilst its greenhouse gas emissions have increased by only 1.2%


Montreal, Canada: The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and Saudi-based Sustainable Tourism Global Center have unveiled revolutionary new data detailing the climate footprint of the Travel & Tourism sector in North America.

Between 2010 and 2019, the North American Travel & Tourism sector decoupled its economic growth from its greenhouse gas emissions. 
The new data for the region, which covers the Travel & Tourism sectors in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, reveals the total contribution to North America’s GDP grew on average 3.1% annually, whilst greenhouse gas emissions increased by just 1.2% during the same period.

The data also demonstrates how the sector’s emissions intensity continues to decrease.

In 2010, for every $1 USD of the region’s Travel & Tourism GDP, the sector emitted 0.53kg of greenhouse gas emissions.

But in 2019, when Travel & Tourism was at its peak, this figure dropped by 15% to 0.45kg. This demonstrates the progress of changes implemented by governments and business leaders across North America to create a more sustainable sector.

The new data shows that in 2019 the sector was responsible for just 9.3% of total greenhouse gas emissions in North America.

For the first time ever, this groundbreaking research can accurately report and track the impact industries within the sector have on the environment.

This world first research which covers 185 countries across all regions, will be updated each year with the latest figures.

Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO, said: “We are now able to give governments across North America the comprehensive information they need to make significant steps towards the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

“The Travel & Tourism sector in the region has decoupled its economic growth from its greenhouse gas emissions and reduced its emissions intensity by 15%. But while this shows progress, a lot more needs to be done.

“To reach our goals and ambitions, we must make bigger and bolder steps to reduce our absolute emissions.

“And for this we need government support in accelerating the production of Sustainable Aviation Fuels which will have a significant impact on our footprint, as well as bringing in more renewable energy to our national grids.”

The global findings were launched last week at the global tourism body’s 22nd Global Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

This research was made possible thanks to the partnership between WTTC and the Saudi-based Sustainable Tourism Global Center. Under the Saudi green Initiative, more than 60 initiatives have been launched in the past year, representing more than $186BN USD of investment in the green economy.

Download the press release

For further information please contact the WTTC Press Office at press.office@wttc.org