Strengthening Germany as a climate-friendly tourism destination


Contributing to Germanys´ goal on climate change, the project “Katzensprung” aims at improving its image as a sustainable travel destination. 

Tortoise- projects in Galapagos, nature adventures in an US-national park, watching wildlife in an eco-resort in South Africa: the demand for sustainable travel experiences has increased steadily over the last decades. According to a current study of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, about 20 million Germans attach importance to socially and ecologically sustainable travel offers. Especially young travelers in Germany are interested in more sustainable options for their holiday journeys. Nevertheless, they still take long distance-journeys because Germany is neither popular as a sustainable tourism destination nor regarded as an exciting place for active nature experiences.

However, the German tourism industry is prospering: in 2016 a number of 447 million overnight stays were registered – again a new record! Another surprising fact is that Germany is still the most popular travel destination for Germans. This shows that staying in the own country for holidays appears to be a trend. At the same time the demand for unique travel experiences, especially offers regarding nature tourism and landscapes, is strongly increasing. As Germany already has a great variety of sustainable options for travelers, the country has a high potential to serve the rising demand in the tourism sector. Nevertheless, exactly that is far too unknown and sustainable tourism offers need to be much more visible and easily accessible for potential tourists.

Thus, the overall goal of the project is to contribute to a more climate friendly nature of travelling as well as to improve Germanys´ image as a sustainable travel destination by making sustainable tourism offers more accessible, visible and popular. We are working towards this ambitious goal with three other partners: The Association of German Nature Parks, the publisher fairkehr and the agency tippingpoints. The National Climate Initiative of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment commissioned this complex project.

Kick-off event Katzensprung

Kick-off event of the project “Katzensprung”

In summer, we launched a competition for the 103 German nature parks whereby 11 of them were chosen to closely work with us on this project. Encompassing the whole variety of landscapes and touristic attractions in Germany, our task is to screen the 11 nature parks for their unique touristic attractions. During this screening process, we will identify the strengths and weaknesses to derive recommendations for action regarding sustainable tourism offers. By working on the topic of a climate-friendly and sustainable tourism, the nature parks contribute to CO2 savings within the German tourism industry and thus to climate protection.

On 15 November this year, we had a kick-off event with 24 representatives of the nature parks and tourism partner in Frankfurt. The main goal of this meeting was to enable an interactive exchange between the different nature park manager and partners. Furthermore, we informed them about the project aims and our approach to reach the overall climate goals.

Besides these goals, the project also contains of a large-scaled communication campaign to promote Germany as a sustainable tourism destination as well as of another competition called “lighthouse contest”. The winners of this competition will be role models for entrepreneurs and will serve as travel inspirations of extraordinary sustainable and climate friendly travel experiences. These travel inspirations will be presented on the website (only German-speaking website).

In the future, Katzensprung should stand for extraordinary, surprising and sustainable travel experiences in Germany, which makes travelling in Germany more attractive and consequently contributes to climate protection.

Author: Martina Leicher

I am Managing Director of COMPASS and studied Geography and Ethnology at the Universlty of Cologne and Urban Development at the University of Bonn. My consultancy focus lies in destination management and tourism marketing, as well as in research with concentration on tourism & peace and sustainibility. Contact:, tel. +49 (0)221 29062838

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