ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) in Travel and Tourism – Thematic Research

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ESG in Travel and Tourism Market Overview

Transparency on ESG matters is now required by several other stakeholders and potential future ones. Investors will often assess a company’s ESG performance when conducting due diligence. Therefore, many company directors are allocating increasing amounts of capital and resources to address ESG aspects and increase attractiveness. 75% of travel and tourism executives stated that the pandemic has acted as a catalyst for increased action on ESG issues. Executives now realize the importance of adopting ESG strategies to address emerging macroeconomic factors. The downtime created by the pandemic has meant that both the public and private sectors have had ample time to assess how they can make a true difference in terms of their ESG strategies.

In the ESG in travel and tourism theme, there are established leaders in each segment of the value chain, as well as challengers looking to enhance their ESG strategies to the point at which their performance regarding ESG aspects provides more impactful results in comparison to leading companies in their respective sector.

Framework of ESG in Travel and Tourism Theme

Environmental performance measures how corporate activity in the travel and tourism industry contributes to climate change, pollution, biodiversity, and the depletion of the world’s natural resources. Several major global airlines have announced their intentions to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, in line with the target for the global economy. The cruise sector has been guilty of marine pollution on a massive scale. Moreover, due to the sheer number of tourists staying in coastal resort areas, businesses often empty their sewage and other wastage directly into the ocean coral reefs and other marine habitats. Touristic activities from visitors themselves also impact biodiversity.

Across all tourism sectors, companies face increasing pressure to adopt more socially sustainable practices. In this respect, job insecurity within the travel and tourism industry has been a major issue. This is partly due to its unpredictable nature and how heavily it can be impacted by macroeconomic factors, such as COVID-19. Many travel intermediaries struggled to retain and recruit staff as travel recovered. Due to recent events surrounding racism and discrimination, and the creation of social rights movements such as Black Lives Matter, travel and tourism companies are being scrutinized to ensure they are practicing what they preach in terms of promoting diversity and inclusivity in aspects such as hiring.

ESG in Travel and Tourism Theme: Key Trends

The key trends in ESG in travel and tourism theme are technology trends, macroeconomic trends, regulatory trends, and industry trends.

Technology Trends: The key technology trends impacting the travel and tourism theme are sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), augmented and virtual reality (AR & VR), smart cities (IoT), and cybersecurity.

Macroeconomic Trends: The key macroeconomic trends impacting the travel and tourism theme are COVID-19, millennials & Gen Z, geopolitics, and sharing economy.

Regulatory Trends: The key regulatory trends impacting the travel and tourism theme are COP26, the Paris agreement, and the European package travel directive.

Industry Trends: The key industry trends impacting the travel and tourism theme are premiumization, sustainability labels and badges, low-cost evolution, adhering to sustainable development goals (SDGs), and awareness of greenwashing.

ESG in Travel and Tourism Value Chains

The value chains in ESG in travel and tourism theme are government, commercial, and non-profit.


Intergovernmental organizations act as an integral part of the ESG in travel and tourism value chain as they create legislation, frameworks, and globally agreed objectives relating to ESG matters. Commercial tourism organizations must adhere to specific pieces of legislation created by the EU.


Commercial travel and tourism organizations are all the profit-driven companies across all sectors that now must implement ESG strategies to ensure their own operations are sustainable from a financial perspective. ESG strategies will continue to govern how business is conducted globally. Stakeholders are demanding greater transparency and action on a full spectrum of ESG issues.


Non-profit organizations also play a vital role in the development of sustainable tourism and the ESG performance of travel and tourism companies by partnering with them on various projects. Non-profit organizations focused on ESG aspects will often work with destinations to provide important services that contribute to economic stability and mobility.

ESG in Travel and Tourism Theme: Key Companies

Some of the key companies in ESG in travel and tourism theme are Melia, Accor, Hurtigruten, Wizz Air, Walt Disney, Royal Schiphol Group, Deutsche Bahn, Expedia Group, and Carnival Corporation, Ponant, Marriott International, Hilton Hotels and Resorts, Comcast, VINCI, and InterContinental Hotels and Resorts.

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ESG in Travel and Tourism Market Report Overview

Key trends Technology Trends, Macroeconomic Trends, Regulatory Trends, and Industry Trends
Value chains Government, Commercial, and Non-Profit
Key companies Melia, Accor, Hurtigruten, Wizz Air, Walt Disney, Royal Schiphol Group, Deutsche Bahn, Expedia Group, and Carnival Corporation, Ponant, Marriott International, Hilton Hotels and Resorts, Comcast, VINCI, and InterContinental Hotels and Resorts

This report provides:

  • Overview of ESG in travel and tourism.
  • Explanation of why ESG in travel and tourism will continue to grow in importance.
  • Outlines of how the need for high levels of ESG performance from stakeholders is met by companies.
  • Examples of what companies and organizations in the travel and tourism industry are doing in reaction to this theme, and how they create differentiation.
  • Highlights of travel and tourism companies that are leading in this theme, such as Melia, Accor, Hurtigruten, Wizz Air, Walt Disney, Royal Schiphol Group, Deutsche Bahn, Expedia Group, and Carnival Corporation.

Reasons to Buy

  • To understand ESG in travel and tourism, and its current and future impact on the industry.
  • To assess the strategies that leading companies are adopting to attract responsible travelers.
  • To identify the leading and challenging companies in this theme.
  • To understand how this theme is being shaped by a range of different technology, macroeconomic, regulatory, and industry trends.
  • GlobalData’s thematic research ecosystem is a single, integrated global research platform that provides an easy-to-use framework for tracking all themes across all companies in all sectors. It has a proven track record of identifying the important themes early, enabling companies to make the right investments ahead of the competition, and secure that all-important competitive advantage.

Wizz Air
Walt Disney
Royal Schiphol Group
Deutsche Bahn
Expedia Group
and Carnival Corporation
Marriott International
Hilton Hotels and Resorts
InterContinental Hotels and Resorts

Table of Contents


Executive Summary


Theme Briefing

ESG Framework in Travel and Tourism

  • Environmental
  • Social
  • Governance


  • Technology trends
  • Macroeconomic trends
  • Regulatory trends
  • Industry trends

Industry Analysis

  • Consumer sentiment
  • Company filings
  • Hiring
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Timeline

Value Chain

  • Government
  • Commercial
  • Non-profit


  • Public companies
  • Private companies

Sector Scorecards

  • Airlines sector scorecard
  • Airports sector scorecard
  • Attraction operators sector scorecard
  • Lodging sector scorecard
  • Rail and road transport sector scorecard
  • Travel intermediaries sector scorecard


Further Reading

Our Thematic Research Methodology

About GlobalData

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