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Sustainable urban tourism through low-carbon initiatives: Experiences from Hue and Chiang Mai


Cities account for up to 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions and they can play a significant role in developing locally-appropriate greenhouse gas mitigation actions and strategies. Chiang Mai in Thailand and Hue in Vietnam are rapidly growing small- to medium-scale cities in the Greater Mekong Subregion, and both are becoming increasingly popular as tourist destinations.

Tourism provides employment for a large number of people in these cities and their countries. For example, the direct contribution of travel and tourism to the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2012 was 7.3% in Thailand and 4.5%, in Vietnam. The industry directly and indirectly generated over 2 million jobs in Thailand and over 3.8 million jobs in Vietnam, representing 5.2% and 8.1% of total national employment, respectively.

However, while tourism is an important urban economic sector, its carbon intensity is also well recognised.

Tourism contributes to about 5% of total global greenhouse gas emissions, and the most common greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide (CO2), is emitted through goods and services related to tourism. Major tourism-related CO2 contributors include energy used for transport (from origin to destination as well as for local travel at the destination), development and operation of tourism infrastructure (e.g. hotels, road construction, heating and cooling) and various leisure activities. Thus, tourism contributes to some extent to global warming and climate change.

This report, Sustainable urban tourism through low-carbon initiatives: Experiences from Hue and Chiang Mai, constitutes the background paper prepared for a CDKN-ICLEI learning programme. It provides a deeper analysis of the different factors which determined the course and the final outcome of the project ‘Sustainable urban tourism through low-carbon initiatives: Experiences from Hue and Chiang Mai’, conducted during 2012–2013.

The report’s main objective is to provide key lessons from the sustainable urban tourism project through the analysis of different enabling conditions and obstacles that determined the course and the final outcome of the initiative.

Download the report here: Sustainable urban tourism through low-carbon initiatives: Experiences from Hue and Chiang Mai

Further reading

INSIDE STORY: Advancing green growth in the tourism sector:
 The case of Hue, Vietnam