EMAS and the tourism sector

The time has come to promote tourism differently – because quality and the environment matter!

September 14, 2021  

By EMAS Helpdesk

IMAGE: Seehotel Wiesler

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the tourism sector and led many tourists to rethink how they travel. Increasingly, they’re looking for high-quality accommodation that demonstrates care for the environment, and they’re willing to pay more for an eco-friendly experience. While demand for sustainable tourism is growing, however, implementation remains a challenge for many providers.


With its EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS), the European Commission offers a simple, effective scheme to help tourism organisations become more sustainable and to communicate that commitment to customers in a credible, visible manner.


The tourism sector and environmental management


EMAS is a voluntary environmental management tool to evaluate, report and improve an organisation’s environmental performance. It allows tour operators, destinations and accommodation facilities to become increasingly sustainable.


EMAS helps any sort of tourism business or organisation achieve:


  • optimised environmental management, from the design of the service to the final outcome
  • reduced energy consumption and CO2 emissions
  • reduced water consumption and use of chemicals
  • reduced waste generation and optimised waste management.


The results of these measures include:


  • the sustained quality of the destination’s environmental attractions by reducing negative direct and indirect impacts
  • financial savings from resource efficiency
  • credible environmental claims
  • better strategic planning through the systematic tracking of environmental performance.


EMAS can be an excellent tool for organisations in the tourism sector that want to be drivers for the realisation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It helps organisations identify their significant impacts on the environment and guides them to positively address them with relevant actions, taking into account its context and stakeholders. EMAS ensures that these actions are not isolated, but are embedded in a broader vision of corporate governance.




IMAGE: Fundació Catalana de l'Esplai

Experiences from EMAS organisations in the tourism sector



In the case study, four tourism organisations talk about their experiences with EMAS:


The Fundació Catalana de l’Esplai (Fundesplai) is a non-profit organisation which, alongside its education and leisure activities, also manages a hostel located at El Prat de Llobregat (Spain). Fundesplai implemented EMAS just after the construction of their new sustainable building, as it allowed them to visualise their labour and environmental performance globally.


The Serralves Foundation Museum of Contemporary Art is recognised as one of Portugal's leading cultural institutions and has been classified as a national monument since 2012. Aware of its impact on the local, regional and international community, and keen to motivate other organisations to adopt good environmental practices, the Serralves Foundation decided to implement EMAS. EMAS has had several positive effects on the museum, including increasing awareness among staff and providing greater certainty in complying with legal requirements.



IMAGE: Seehotel Wiesler

The Seehotel Wiesler GmbH is a nature and wellness-oriented four-star hotel at Lake Titisee in the southern Black Forest, Germany, and it has been EMAS-registered since 2006. This small organisation has achieved surprising results, not only in terms of its own environmental performance, but also because of its ability to involve other companies in the sector and along the value chain.


The Gargano National Park Authority (Italy) manages a territorial resource that is of great importance for tourism and used by operators in the sector to make their services attractive. EMAS helps the park authority to control the environmental value of both the managed territory and its own organisation. In addition, the Gargano National Park Authority benefits from the access it gains to funding tenders and other financing opportunities through EMAS registration.


The Munich-based family business Studiosus (Germany) is the European market leader in the cultural travel segment. When the company became the first tour operator in Europe to register with EMAS in 1998, the idea of sustainability was already firmly anchored in the company, and it wanted to give its environmental commitment a firm framework via an internationally recognised and high-quality standard. EMAS offered the opportunity to systematically record the environmental measures already implemented by the company and to transparently present its most important environmental achievements and its efforts to preserve its destinations.







© Sustain Europe 2024. All rights reserved. Powered by 100% Green Energy. Our pledge to the Environment.