Sustainable tourism in Europe’s major cities is not a priority on the political agenda, despite a decade of massive urban tourism growth. This is the result of a report developed by the NGO eco-union which has analyzed the tourism policies of 11 major urban destinations in Europe.
The growth of tourism remains the main priority for most cities such as Berlin, Brussels, Copenhagen, Dublin, Lisbon, London, Paris or Reykjavik. Likewise, of the 12 cities from the most visited cities per EU-28 do not have a published and updated tourism policy.
These expectations towards tourism growth in European cities compromise the Agenda 2030 and the reduction of CO2 emissions aspired by the Paris Agreement. Only Amsterdam and Barcelona have integrated limits to the growth of hotel capacity.
The report also analyses the main sustainability problems and the measures the governments are implementing to manage the tourism sector. Amsterdam, Barcelona, and Paris are the only cities with sustainable tourism strategies to solve problems related to the massification of tourism and the reduction of housing in urban centers due to the sharing of accommodation.
The most common measures are related to the control of hotel capacity, the regulation of shared accommodation and protection of housing, tourism taxation, incentives for responsible production and consumption, and the promotion of tourism in metropolitan areas to decongest urban centers.
Even so, Amsterdam and Paris plan for a growth in tourism in the coming years, unlike Barcelona, whose policy does not incorporate growth objectives.
The report displays a set of recommendations for a better integration of sustainability in urban tourism policies. However, European cities must redefine their tourism growth expectations if they want to accomplish with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.