Case study: The Netherlands climate action roadmap

The Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions (NBTC) published their climate action roadmap, ‘The road to climate-neutral tourism’ in October 2022. The roadmap outlines what the road to climate-neutral tourism in the Netherlands could look like, what the current situation is, and what needs to happen now and in the coming years  in order to meet 2030 and 2050 goals.

Their roadmap contains combined expertise from the scientific community with knowledge from the many reports available from inside and outside the sector. This is supplemented with the experience of a large number of professionals at companies, levels of government, knowledge institutions, DMOs and sector organisations. The roadmap acknowledges that ‘while this (paper) is not a silver bullet for the entire sector, it can provide starting points for parties to work together where we identify shared opportunities and challenges. This will allow us to work together even better than we already do, on the road to climate-neutral tourism.’

It should be noted that The road to climate-neutral tourism is a sector-wide roadmap not a plan for one DMO. Roadmaps lay out the framework for action across all levels of society, including the issues and direction needed to tackle challenges. They are very useful for providing a helicopter view of what should be addressed. Climate action plans differ in that they set out how and when to do tasks and make commitments on getting there.

What we particularly liked about this roadmap:

  • The road to climate-neutral tourism is a good example of a bold and holistic roadmap that looks at travel to and from the destination and on a reduction of aviation, both of which make up the lion’s share of emissions for the destination. For example, the roadmap sets out recommended actions for DMOs to focus marketing activities on domestic and neighbouring countries, to only apply ‘far away’ marketing on the basis of the eco-efficiency index, which highlights the most valuable visitor per unit of CO2, and to make consumers aware of the most sustainable way to get to their destination. The plan also provides detailed information on decarbonisation across different aspects of tourism and for different audiences, without relying on offsetting.
  • The roadmap provides a shared, sector-wide base and framework to guide others as they work on their own climate action planning. Its production has helped create momentum and urgency for destinations and businesses in the Netherlands to get started.
  • The need to work together is a major theme throughout the roadmap. It appreciates the importance of cross sector collaboration by talking about the different roles for different types of organisations and laying out the framework for action across government, business sector, branch organisations, knowledge institutes and DMOs. In this way, it will help to catalyse wider engagement at a destination level and across different audiences including business and policy. The process taken to come to a common framework may be even more important than the plan itself because of how it brings together and aligns different stakeholders.
  • The roadmap is structured around the five pillars of the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism: Measure, Decarbonise, Regenerate, Collaborate, Finance. This ensures that the roadmap is comprehensive and aligned with other plans around the world.  For each pillar, the roadmap sets out the current state of affairs, what needs to be done and the lines of action to be taken up by different organisations across the sector are outlined.

Ewout Versloot, Strategist at NBTC says, “In this roadmap we describe the responsibility we have, as a destination, to work towards climate neutral tourism. All the good that tourism can bring and which we want to stimulate, also carries the responsibility to mitigate the negative aspects as much as we can.”

Read NBTC’s climate action roadmap

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