France and Germany top a new Sustainable Tourism Index produced by the Economist Intelligence Unit, with the UK in third place.

The index, launched at the turn of the year, assesses countries on their commitment to developing sustainable practices in tourism.

The inaugural index features just 10 countries with ratings of one to 100 measuring performance across five categories – the regulatory environment, environmental, socio-economic and economic sustainability, and the travel and tourism industry.

Europe took the top-three spots largely on the back of “strong policies supporting sustainability” with “developing countries well short in policy implementation”.

But the accompanying report concludes: “While sustainable practices are taking hold, fragmentation reigns even in high-scoring countries. In no country is sustainable tourism policy sufficiently integrated between national, local and regional levels.”

It also notes: “The small and medium-sized enterprises which comprise the lion’s share of the tourism industry worldwide struggle to meet sustainability goals.”

Experts consulted on producing the index included Global Sustainable Tourism Council chief executive Randy Durband and director of the International Sustainable Tourism Initiative Megan Epler Wood.

France topped the rankings with 73.9 out of 100. Germany was second with 71.7, the UK third with 62.4 and US fourth on 53.1, with Japan, India, Brazil, China, Indonesia and Egypt rating under 50.