7 March 2024

“Travellers should be able to make more informed decisions in relation to sustainability”

In the current Voice of the Month, Laura Steden, Director Corporate Responsibility at DER Touristik, explains why CO2e labelling is crucial for making more conscious travel decisions.
Reading time: 5 min.

Dear readers,

Beautiful sand beaches, breath-taking landscapes, awe-inspiring experiences, art, culture and cuisine; The list of things that make travel so unforgettable is endless. But tourism is also a key economic pillar in many countries. For these reasons, we work closely with travel destinations around the world to safeguard human rights, conserve resources, and protect the environment, animals, and the climate. This is because tourism can only be a sustainable business model when we respect local populations, nature, and the environment.

As the second-largest tourism company in Europe, we are the link between travel destinations and consumers. This is a responsibility that we take seriously – not least through our non-profit organisation, DER Touristik Foundation e.V., which has enabled us to strengthen our commitment to social issues in these countries since 2014. To date, we have supported and implemented 97 projects in 28 countries. One example is KOTO, our training project in Vietnam, which is committed to securing future prospects for disadvantaged young people. In Sri Lanka, our reforestation project preserves the valuable ecosystems of mangrove forests through ecotourism and educational programmes, which create sustainable livelihoods for the local population. Larger projects in developing countries, however, still require extensive support from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

One of the greatest challenges in the tourism sector is effective climate protection. We are therefore proud that the REWE Group – which includes the DER Touristik Group – has committed to the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). This shows our commitment to science-based emissions reduction targets aligned with the 1.5-degree reduction pathway set out in the Paris Agreement. Our ambitious goal is to reach net zero emissions in all areas of the Group by 2050. With this goal, we are focussing on drastically reducing our own emissions, and those of our supply chains as well.

One of the biggest challenges in the tourism sector is certainly effective climate protection.

Laura Steden, Director Corporate Responsibility DERTOUR Group
Laura Steden, Director Corporate Responsibility DERTOUR Group

We have also strengthened our cooperation with Futouris e.V., an industry sustainability initiative that focusses primarily on standardising carbon footprint calculations to ensure greater transparency for travellers. It will give consumers the opportunity to make fast and informed climate-conscious decisions. The initiative gives us, as a company, the opportunity to know what our emissions are and to make our portfolio more climatefriendly. To this end, we prepared a feasibility study on the creation of a CO2 register for trips. After the work on this project concluded, we joined with other tour operators to form the organisation KlimaLink, of which I am a board member. Together, we developed science-based standards – which also draw on the feasibility study – to establish a standardised CO2e labelling system. In an initial phase this year, our air travel routes will be labelled so that customers can compare the climate footprints of individual routes.

Of course, the impact of initiatives like this CO2e labelling system is limited if only some companies take part. Greater visibility leads to greater attention, awareness, and the necessary discussions – that’s why I am calling for my colleagues in the industry to also get involved in KlimaLink. One thing is certain, however. The long-term and comprehensive success of such industry initiatives also requires the support of all stakeholders involved – including businesses, politicians, and customers.

It is clear that government and legislation will play a key role in achieving the ambitious sustainability targets that we have set and must continue to set for ourselves as a company and as an industry. In my view, we need clear and standardised frameworks, for example, when it comes to the question of how we can communicate sustainability information to our customers. We also need targeted funding and support for research, for example, on alternative modes of air transportation. Shaping the mobility of the future must be coordinated and promoted at the European and international levels, including through improved rail and air connections as well as targeted research into more sustainable fuels.

Tourism is, by definition, a “global business”, and we must also take global responsibility. I am proud that we at DER Touristik are assuming a pioneering role in this regard, while also tackling major challenges.

Yours Laura Steden

Laura Steden
Director Corporate Responsibility DERTOUR Group