The topic of sustainable vacations is pertinent to green transition for several reasons.
Firstly, green transition cannot be achieved only through technological innovation; it must also, and will necessarily, comprise cultural, social and behavioural changes (Linnér & Wibeck 2020; Dubois et al. 2019). In order to meet Danish and European GHG reduction goals we need to consider, involve and provide the research base for behavioural change. Understanding how social practices and practice changes are constituted is essential for understanding how to foster green transitions.
Secondly, vacations and in particular vacation travels and tourism are in need of green transition – in ways that also address behaviour. Tourism accounts for approximately 8 % of global greenhouse gas emissions, while the decarbonisation achieved through technological progress is more than offset by increasing demand (Lenzen et al. 2018). Aviation alone accounts for 2.2 % of global CO2 emissions and 4-5 % of the anthropogenic climate impact, and person kilometres covered by aviation has in recent years increased by 7 % annually (ICAO 2018; Gudmundsson 2019). A major share of the carbon footprint from tourism stems from high-income countries (Lenzen et al. 2018). Indeed, the number of passengers from Danish airports has grown with almost 50 % over the past decade; a growth to which overseas travels have contributed considerably (Gudmundsson 2019). Moreover, aviation is one of the most unsustainable practices individual citizens can pursue (EEA 2016). Other widespread vacation types also have unsustainable profiles; one example being cruise tourism with its significant CO2 and wastewater emissions, besides its serious air pollution of hosting cities (Caric & Mackelworth 2014; MacNeill & Wozniak).
Thirdly, vacation practices constitute a critical case for the socio-cultural dynamics of green transition and for the integration of sustainability concerns in people’s lifeworld. Vacationing is embedded in strong cultural values. It is constituted as a treasured aim during the course of everyday life and is enacted as a field of pleasurable living. And quality of life is associated with vacations away from home and with the speedy and long reach travelling that aviation affords. To the extent that climate and sustainability concerns can be integrated into the values, imaginaries and sentiments that pervade vacation practices, such concerns may succeed to become an important part of people’s lifeworld. An investigation of change processes in this field of practice will thus provide valuable lessons regarding the socio-cultural dimension of green transition in general.
Finally, the still ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted our customary vacation activities and holiday imaginaries, at least for a while; thereby providing new experiences with alternatives to hitherto habitual destinations and travel forms. Long-term effects of the pandemic will continue to unfold in the coming years and potentially tie in with a long-range integration of climate and sustainability concerns in vacation practices.
Caric, Hrvoje & Mackelworth, Peter. (2014). Cruise tourism environmental impacts – The perspective from the Adriatic Sea. Ocean & Coastal Management, 102: 350-363.
Dubois, G., B. Sovacool, C. Aall, M., Nilsson, C., Barbierg, A. Herrmanne, S. Bruyèrea, C. Andersson, B. Skold, F. Nadaudi, F. Dornere, K. R. Moberg, J.P. Cerona, H. Fischer, D. Amelung, M. Baltruszewicz, J. Fischer, F. Benevisea,V.R. Louis, R. Sauerborne (2019): It starts at home? Climate policies targeting household consumption and behavioral decisions are key to low-carbon future. Energy Research & Social Science, 52: 144-158.
EEA (2016): Transition towards a more sustainable mobility system. EEA Report No 34/2016
ICAO Annual report 2018 https://www.icao.int/annual-report-2018/Pages/the-world-of-air-transport-in-2018.aspx
Gudmundsson, Henrik (2019): Flyrejser, klima og kompensation. Notat, Concito.
Lenzen, Manfred, Ya-Yen Sen, Futu Faturay, Yuan-Peng Ting, Arne Geschke, & Arunima Malik. (2018): The carbon footprint of global tourism. Nature Climate Change, 8: 522-528.
Linnér, Bjön-Ola & Wibeck, Victoria (2020): Conceptualising variations in societal transformations towards sustainability. Environmental Science and Policy, 106: 221-227.
MacNeill, Timothy & Wozniak, David. (2018): The economic, social, and environmental impacts of cruise tourism. Tourism Management, 66: 387-404.