The tourism sector’s emissions are growing annually, but carbon efficiencies are generally improving .

The carbon footprint of tourism is considerable; in the order of 5 to 10% of global emissions, depending on how it is measured. Recently, a comprehensive study on tourism’s global footprint has been published in Nature Climate Change. The Global Sustainable Tourism Dashboard¬† presents detailed emissions on two key industries: aviation and the cruise industry. For aviation, the Dashboard uses a unique approach to estimating total global passenger carbon dioxide emissions. Data stem from the Amadeus booking database in combination with ICAO emission factors that are specific to each airport-airport pair. For cruise ship emissions, data stem from the Annual Reports of key companies. You can see the data pages in the sub menu of this page.


  • Emissions from both aviation and cruise ships continue to increase, despite improvements in efficiency.
  • 2018 emissions from aviation have reached 665 Million tonnes of CO2.
  • IATA reports that the CO2 emissions in 2018 were estimated to be 905 Million tonnes; however, this includes both passenger transport and freight. A total of 4,378 million passengers were counted in 2018.
  • The peak of global passenger air travel emissions is in July and August due to high volumes from Northern Hemisphere holiday travel. Emissions in August alone were 63 Mt of carbon dioxide.
  • First and business class travel only comprise 5% of all passenger travel, but the related carbon dioxide emissions amount to a share of 10%.
  • The top regions in terms of aviation emissions are North America, Europe and South East Asia (including China). The USA contributes 151 Mt CO2 to passenger aviation emissions.
  • Per capita of population, the island destinations have the highest aviation footprint but countries such as Australia and New Zealand also have high per capita air travel emissions. This is due to long distances and high travel propensity (both by domestic populations and visitors).
  • Cruise ship companies emitted 21 Million tonnes of CO2 in 2018.
  • The carbon intensity per passenger is improving for the major cruise ship companies, but overall emissions are increasing.