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Responsible Travel: Recent City Index Provides new insights

While city trips are becoming more and more popular, an ever-growing number of travellers seem to value sustainable travel planning. But still too often, information on where and how to travel sustainably is insufficient.

To assist sustainability-conscious voyagers in their research, KAYAK has released the City Index for Responsible Travelers. This new interactive guide aims to help travellers consider sustainability-related aspects such as airport CO2 certification, destination transportation, and air quality in cities around the world.

The index ranks 167 cities in 63 countries based on 28 factors across four categories: arrival, transportation, accommodation, and experiences. It is designed to support travellers in making informed and well-founded travel decisions. The index also offers the option to personalize the ranking results and filter them based on the factors that are most important to every traveller. Thus, it prioritizes the individual needs of everyone. Additionally, it allows filtering by specific regions: Europe, North America and Central America, South America and the Caribbean, Asia-Pacific, and the Middle East and Africa.

"According to our study, over half of German travellers do not have enough information to make a travel decision based on sustainability factors. With the new City Index for Responsible Travelers, we make it easier for them to choose a specific travel destination," says Per Christiansen, SVP Marketing at KAYAK.

Germany performs remarkably well in this new ranking, with Munich in fifth place and Frankfurt, Hamburg, and Berlin ranking 11th to 13th, respectively. The top spots in the index are occupied by Rotterdam, Amsterdam, and Graz.

City Index 2023 for Responsible Travelers Europe Leads the Ranking with Rotterdam in the first place

The top 20 rankings consist exclusively of European cities. The first place is held by Rotterdam in the Netherlands. The port city excels with an airport that has an advanced CO2 management system certified by the Airport Carbon Accreditation. The city is also characterized by a high number of affordable accommodations qualified by's Sustainable Travel program, as well as an extensive urban rail network.

Amsterdam takes second place and is globally renowned for its bicycle-friendliness and pedestrian zones, while also offering good options for using eco-friendly vehicles and a high density of electric charging stations. Graz in Austria ranks third, with highlights including a good rail network, numerous electric charging stations, and an extremely pedestrian-friendly city center. The historic center of Graz was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999.

Munich Outperforms Frankfurt, Hamburg, and Berlin

In Germany, the capital of Bavaria, Munich, secures the fifth position globally with good local transportation connections and an appealing cultural offering for walking city tours, numerous museums, and plenty of art destinations for art lovers.

Frankfurt, ranking 11th worldwide, stands out with numerous certified hotels that obtain their electricity from 100 percent renewable energy sources or consciously avoid single-use plastics. Additionally, Frankfurt has a reliable train connection, good air quality, and an affordable price level for eco-friendly rental cars. The twelfth spot goes to the Hanseatic city of Hamburg, featuring an airport with a certified CO2 management system, excellent connectivity of trains and ferries, and many electric charging stations.

Berlin follows in 13th place. The capital not only appears on the UNESCO World Heritage list but also offers a wide range of environmentally friendly activities, free walking tours, and numerous local second-hand shops. Berlin is also among the cities with the most second-hand stores.

Tokyo: Eco-friendliest city in the Asia-Pacific Region

Japan's capital, Tokyo, ranks highest in the Asia-Pacific region, followed by Osaka (also in Japan). Thanks to pedestrian zones and designated bike lanes, the city's numerous local markets, theatres, and art galleries are easily accessible. The diverse bike-sharing options conveniently connect travellers with the reliable rail system. In Osaka, bicycles are three times more popular among commuters than cars.

North America: Vancouver in first place

Vancouver, Canada, and San Francisco, USA, take the top two spots in the KAYAK ranking for North America, closely followed by Boston, Washington DC, and New York (all in the USA). Vancouver stands out with its good air quality, while San Francisco impresses with its excellent public transportation system and pedestrian zones. Boston, on the other hand, excels with numerous charging stations for electric cars and an extensive cycling network.

Plenty of Opportunities for Responsible Travelers Worldwide

In South America, Santiago, the capital of Chile, performed the best. The city offers the most attractive airfares for off-season travel, and its airport has been recognized for its CO2 management according to the Airport Carbon Accreditation. Colombia's capital, Bogotá, is a member of the UNESCO ICCAR (International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities). The country promotes diversity and inclusion, as evidenced by the accessibility of 26 percent of city tours for wheelchair users.

Responsible travel also means preserving and supporting the culture and community of a travel destination while promoting the local economy, for example, through the purchase of regional products. In this regard, Tunis in Tunisia stands out. Its numerous markets and second-hand shops are ideal for immersing oneself in the local culture.

This article is from the 2/2023 issue of the magazine "Life Abroad".

The magazine is published four times a year free of charge with many informative articles on foreign topics.

It is published by the BDAE, the expert for protection abroad.